Week 26: Carousel Dinner Theater

It’s week 26, and that means I’m halfway through my year of new (to me) Fort Collins activities. I’m looking forward to the next six months, and I’m relieved that I haven’t yet reached the end of my list of things to do. (That’s one of the advantages of being a homebody/social hermit: there’s always something going on that I haven’t done.)

Some time ago, Kristin of the Feasting Fort Collins restaurant review blog and I met for coffee and tossed around the idea of getting together for an activity that would combine her food review with…well, whatever it is that I do. And so, a plan to meet for a meal and performance at the Carousel Dinner Theater was born. The timing was coincidental, but I was really pleased to be able to celebrate my mini-milestone with my first Choice City collaboration.

The Carousel Dinner Theater has been feeding and entertaining folks for 20 years. Last November, it moved into the former Mann 4 Theater on South Mason Street. That movie theater was, if I’m not mistaken, the first complex in town with more than two screens—a big deal back then. It closed in 1999, and every time I drove by on one of my innumerable trips to Target, I wished that someone would use it for more than just a parking lot.

Wish granted. The building now houses the Midtown Arts Center, which includes the Carousel Dinner Theater. The exterior looks very much the same—I imagine the MAC will put up a sign someday—but the interior is completely renovated in a clean, modern style. It even looked a bit sparse, which makes me think there are plans to do more with the lobby area in the future. There’s a fun bar instead of a concession stand, and the place no longer smells like greasy popcorn.

We were shown to our table and got drinks and dinner underway in short order. Kristin is on a different blog schedule—she actually plans ahead, imagine that—so you’ll have to stay tuned for her food review later this month. I won’t say anything about the meal, other than I didn’t go hungry. And I shamelessly used Kristin’s blog as an excuse to order dessert.

Smokey Joe’s Café is purely a musical revue—no story, not much dialogue—and when I saw the list of 40 songs in the program, I thought that maybe I wouldn’t be returning home until the wee hours. But the pace was so fast that the moment one song ended, another began. Not only did the talented and energetic performers give their all on stage with non-stop singing and dancing, but they were also the wait staff. Instead of catching a break at intermission, they were serving dessert. I honestly have never seen people work so hard to put on a show.

My one concern was with my seat, as our table-for-two was tucked up in the very front corner of the theater, within an arm’s reach of the stage. I had a perfect view down into the musicians’ pit and thought it might be a distraction during the show. As it turned out, seeing the more subdued focus of the musicians directly under the energy of all of the on-stage activity made for an interesting juxtaposition, and it didn’t bother me. But it wouldn’t be such a good seat for a more conventional musical.

Smokey Joe’s plays until March 19, followed by 42nd Street’s March 25th opening. Also look for The Carousel's Cabaret series, with $10 admission and a two-drink minimum. Thanks so much to Kristin for joining me on this fun outing. It was the first time I’ve ever dined with a restaurant reviewer, and I’m looking forward to reading her post!


Kristin said…
This was such a fun night. Thanks again for joining me on a review!
Jenny said…
Thank you, Kristin!

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