Broadway quality entertainment in your own backyard

By Aaron Reynolds

The Surveyor

The lobby is crowded and budding with anticipation as you enter the large building. You are then escorted to a table in the hall and offered a menu featuring unique drink names and entrees. You order and savor every bite. Then the lights go dim and the curtains open.

Such is a night at the Candelight Dinner Playhouse in Johnstown, located off the Interstate 25 corridor, and just opened its 10th season on Sept. 7.

Candlelight was launched in 2008, offering new versions of classic musicals as a source of quality stage productions for residents of the northern Front Range who did not wish to travel all the way to Denver for a show.

It has been a crowning success and fittingly kicked off the 10th season with the production that started it all – Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man” – that runs from September to November.

“The Music Man” tells the story of Harold Hill, a con man who deceives a small town into buying instruments for a boys’ band that he has no intention of ever assembling. However, when librarian and piano teacher Marian begins to pick up on Harold’s ploy, things get interesting.

According to production manager Pat Payne, “The Music Man” will present a company of 34 actors, including Candelight veteran Bob Hoppe as Harold Hill. In addition to the cast, another 20 or so members compose the production, design and shop teams, and then when you factor in the kitchen as well as serving staff you have well over 100 people involved in each night’s production.

“It is exciting to revisit the show that started it all,” Payne explained. “It’s great because, first of all, it’s the perfect Candelight show. It’s an American classic, it has a great story, it’s perfect for the entire family, and it has memorable music; wonderful story. It just has a little something for everyone.”

Along with “The Music Man,” Candlelight’s 10th season will also deliver other staples of the musical genre including “Beauty and the Beast” (November-February), “Kiss Me Kate” (February-April), “Man of La Mancha” (April-June) and “Newsies” (June-August).

“In our own way we are doing what Candelight does best,” Payne added. “We are taking shows that people know more than likely, but putting a spin on it. We are doing some fun things with our production of it.”

Even if you have attended a show at Candelight in the past, you may be surprised to discover the venue unveiled $1.8 million in additions last year, including a new multi-tiered conference center, workshop area, and expanded administration area, as well as complete remodel of the kitchen.

According to Dave Clark, executive director at Candlelight, the nearly $2 million expansion has enhanced the experience in numerous facets, consequently attracting the highest caliber of talent this state has to offer to the venue.

“We do believe that we have grown over the years in experience and quality that shows in our current production of ‘The Music Man,’” Clark said.” Over the last several years we have worked on several things that we believe have increased our production quality and the product that we are providing to our patrons.”

Thanks to a completely remodeled kitchen, attendees should also anticipate a terrific meal, as Clark added, the new kitchen has “improved the quality and efficiency of our dinner service to our patrons.”

The menu for “The Music Man” will be themed to the show, so audiences can expect early 1900s Midwest-styled dishes such as BBQ chicken, cornmeal dusted trout and Iowa Chop to name a few.

Clark added, “We hope that our patrons are able to relax when they come to our show, with some fine dining that is themed to the show which will hopefully get them in the mood for the wonderful production we have prepared for them.”

Payne concluded, “Dinner theater is an experience like none other; it’s kind of like one-stop shopping. It’s a perfect date night because it’s everything under one roof. It’s the perfect family outing. You are going to see Broadway-quality entertainment in your own backyard.”

Tickets to a show include fresh-baked bread, choice of dinner salad or house-made soup du jour, choice of entrée, and show. For more information about Candelight Dinner Playhouse as well as to purchase tickets, visit www.coloradocandlelight.com/.

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