Chad and Sandy Neumann: Alhambra Dinner Theatre
Alhambra Dinner Theatre
Alhambra Dinner Theatre is NOT the same place you visited just a few years ago! If you haven’t been there in a while, you’d better check out the new & improved Alhambra Dinner Theatre for a family-friendly night out.
All the world’s a stage! But one of the best stages to visit is the Alhambra Dinner Theatre. Residing in Jacksonville, Florida it is one of the few remaining dinner theaters out there in the United States. Alhambra Dinner Theatre was built in 1967 and is currently the oldest continually operating dinner theater. The theatre was first built by a business man by the name of Leon Simon but then later purchased by Tod Booth Sr. in 1984.
Alhambra Dinner Theatre Attracts Star Performers
In the beginning dinner theaters were where you could watch your favorite film, TV or music performers. It was these stars who attracted customers to come near and far away to watch beautiful and entertaining performances. At Alhambra Dinner Theatre, you could watch Cyd Charisse dance, Frank Gorshin tell hilarious jokes and it is there, you could have watched Betty Grable perform her very last live performance.
The first headliner was called “Barefoot in the Park” in 1969 that featured Dawn Wells, a star from Gilligan’s Island. Famous actors and actresses were attracted to performing there as they could make a good living for a few weeks performing while enjoying the lovely Jacksonville weather. When careers began to cool, the dinner theatre circuit was a great route to go. But when the 1980s rolled in, many of these famous stars found it more lucrative opportunities working in commercials and television. They received more money and they didn’t have to travel. Soon had to think of other ideas on how to attract customers now that they couldn’t use big names to attract them.
Changes To The Alhambra
In an attempt to revamp the theater and attract customers the Alhambra Dinner Theatre tried a couple times to renovate. They first tried in 1997, with plans to separate the theatre and dining sections while adding on an additional banquet facility. This never came into fruition but tried again in 2000 when there seemed to be a resurgence of dinner theaters but was denied a permit from the city due to insufficient traffic capacity.
When Tod Booth Sr. acquired the dinner theater, it was a family affair. All of the Booth family was involved in the operations. His daughter, Jessica and his wife, Lisa appeared in a number of their shows while the son, Tod Jr. hand his hands in many different aspects of the business such as acting, directing and managing the dinner theatre. Later on, he became the general manager and director of the Alhambra Children’s Theatre. During this time, the food served was in buffet style. Meat and Potatoes were the style in the dinner options.
During the latest recession, in August 2009 the Alhambra Dinner Theatre suspended operations because of the lack of attendance and the constant expense to keep the theater open. That same year, the Booth family sold the theatre to Theatre Partners in October. They were a group of local investors managed by Craig Smith. Tod Booth still kept control of managing the theater. As the new management came in, they gave the inside a new makeover. With new paint, flooring, fixtures and updated table settings, they reopened again in December 2009 with A Christmas Carol.
Alhambra Dinner Theatre Cuisine
Though the entertainment is what customers originally came for, it is also now also the food that brings people in. The Theatre Partners hired Chef Dejuan Roy to be in charge of all food in November of 2011. With an impressive resume and background, Chef Dejuan Roy has over 20 years of experience. They did away with the buffet menu and switched to a plated, full-service seating at each table. What makes this dining experience even more interesting is that they tailor each menu with a theme that ties into the headlining performance.
Kids Love Alhambra Dinner Theatre!
Though many of their performances tend to be adult geared, they also have many children friendly performances. The latest performance that they did was Tony Award-winning, Shrek the Musical. Taking the kids to a show and a great meal is a wonderful way to spend a family night together. The Alhambra Theatre has become more family friendly, making sure that each year they include a few family-friendly favorites and ending the year with a great Christmas show with their traditional, A Christmas Carole.
Alhambra After Dark
They have also included Open Mic night, Alhambra After Dark and Improve shows on Mondays. While it is open seating and the bar is open, they have also introduced a menu on these nights. This has helped bring in more business. If sales continue to be strong, they plan on a multi-million dollar renovation in the future.
The Alhambra Dinner Theatre has been a 47-year staple in Jacksonville and you can truly see why. It is truly a beloved business in the community and a must experience when you are in town! Many Jacksonville residents have grown up attending various shows during their childhood, but if they haven’t been here lately they are in for a surprise!! It’s time to check out the new and improved Alhambra Dinner Theatre!
Question of the day: What’s you’re favorite genre of broadway? Is it comedies, classics, or musicals? Share with us in the comments below!
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