Johnston, CO Theatre: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s 42nd Street

It’s 1933 at the  Candlelight Dinner Playhouse.

1933. The height of the Depression. Jobs are scarce, money is scarce, food is scarce – and finding a dime on the street is a reason for celebration. One way people forget their troubles is to attend the movies or the theatre, where they can lose themselves in a different world for two or three hours.

Julian Marsh (David Wygant) is a famous theatre director who lost all his savings in the aftermath of the 1929 crash, and needs to produce a successful Broadway play to put himself back on his feet. Thanks to prima donna Dorothy Brock (Heather McClain) and her sugar daddy, the still wealthy Texan Abner Dillon (Kent Sugg), he has perhaps his last chance – the musical Pretty Lady which will be undergoing tryouts before heading to Broadway.

Enter Peggy Sawyer (Lisa Kay Carter) a young woman from Allentown, PA who has come to New York to tryout for the chorus of Pretty Lady. Unfortunately she arrives late for the auditions, and while she catches the eye of the egotistical tenor Billy Lawlor (Parker Redford), she runs afoul of Julian Marsh….and soon, of Dorothy Brock.

42nd Street was originally a movie starring Warner Baxter and Ruby Keeler, produced in 1933. In 1980, producer David Merrick turned it into a musical, directed and choreographed by the famous Gower Champion. The book was by Michael Stewart, the music by Harry Warren and the lyrics by Al Dubin. It was an immediate success on Broadway and ran for 9 years.

42nd Street was revived (and revised) in 2001, and it is the script from this production that is used in regional productions.

Front view of the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse with a sign for its production of 42nd Street

The Dinner…

Since the phrase is “Dinner and a show,” let’s start with the dinner first.

After everyone is seated – at a table for 2, 4 or 6 depending on their tickets – the team of wait-staff come out to take drink and food orders.  The entrees available are listed in the center of the program. What makes the Candlelight Dinner Theatre special as far as the “Dinner” portion is concerned is that they don’t serve the same food all the time. Instead, their entrees are themed to each show! In other words, the cuisine served at the Candlelight Dinner Theater is by no means an afterthought – it is an integral part of the whole experience.

For 42nd Street, “please enjoy our fanciful take on Depression-era recipes, ideas and products created in 1933.”

Appetizers included a Cheese Ball (a savory blend of sharp cheddar, bleu and cream cheeses, mayo, butter, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and onions. Rolled in pecans and served with carrots, celery and a 1933 invention – Frito’s) and Pigs in a Blanket (A classic! Cocktail wieners wrapped in pastry dough. Baked golden brown and served with mustard and baked beans.

Entrees included Philly Cheese Steak Loaf (a classic blend of ground beef, onion, bell pepper, panko, Worcestershire, garlic amd mozzarella cheese, topped with a creamy white sauce and served with potato soup and vegetable medley.

Delicious Philly Steak Cheese Loaf. The potato soup featured a clear but tasty broth

and Chicken Pot Pie (juicy chicken breast topped with onion, peas, carrots, celery, potatoes and a biscuit. Served with a vegetable medley).

The Chicken Pot Pie

Upgraded entrees (so called because they are included in the price of the ticket) included the Candlelight Signature Grilled Prime Rib Au Jus, Prosciutto-wrapped Shrimp, and Pork Chop and White Beans.

For dessert (also not included in the price of the ticket), there were such hard-to-resist items as Blueberry Bread Pudding, Baked Pear, Chess Pie, and their featured dessert, Ice Cream Alchemy – small batch premium ice creams such as Lemon Crream, Bourbon Butterscotch, Lemon Sorbet and Raspberry Sorbet – made in Boulder, Colorado.

Their New York Cheesecake – a classic tall slide of traditional, creamy New York cheesecake served with a sour cream sauce, was enough for two people.

The New York Cheesecake – before and after

and the show…

The “show” actually started before the “Show.” Most of the wait staff were actually members of the cast. While it is of course not permissible to take photos or video during the performance, the actors are happy to pose for photos in between times. (Assuming there is time! Get seated early if you want to chat with your waiter/waitress!)

David Wygant – the actual star of the show as director Julian Marsh – was the waiter in my section (the inset is my photo, the larger photo is a publicity still)

Sara Kowalski (as Ethel) in charge of coffee – delivering coffee before the show and during intermission in full make-up

and the Show

The Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s production of 42nd Street is a high energy production that does full justice to the book and the music. David Wygant makes a compelling Julian Marsh, and Lisa Kay Carter delivers the requisite vulnerability and charm of the young, almost-too-nice-for-her-own-good Peggy Sawer. Samantha J Staggs as Maggie – one of the two writers of Pretty Lady – steals practically every scene she’s end.

Parker Redford as tenor Billy Lawlor manages to combine arrogance and charm, and Kent Sugg delivers a very Texan Abner in a small but showy role. Heather McClain’s Dorothy Brock has her prima donna down to perfection, but as the complexities of the plot unfold she’s able to deliver the complexities in Dorothy’s character.

The rest of the large cast delivers as well, from the Cole Emarine’s high energy choreographer Andy to Mary McGroary’s Anytime Annie.

There’s plenty of dancing and lots of singing in this show, which moves at a quick pace. All the performers are miked, which doesn’t seem necessary in this relatively small space – but it’s necessary in case anyone needs to use the Assisted Listening Devices which enable the hard of hearing to enjoy the show.

This production of 42nd Street was directed by Pat Payne and choreographed by Kate Vallee.

Poster for the upcoming production above the fireplace, and a line for wine at the bar

The Venue

The Candlelight Dinner Playhouse has an intimate feel in the lobby, with its stone-faced columns and fireplace, and posters of upcoming productions.

The men’s bathroom was to the left, the women’s bathroom across the lobby on the right – with 8 stalls so there weren’t very long lines during intermission!

If you want to see the show without having dinner, there’s show-only tickets available and balcony seating.

Balcony seating

If you’ve got a little time to spare,
I want to take you there.
Come and meet those dancing feet,
On the avenue I’m taking you to…
Come and meet those dancing feet,
On the avenue I’m taking you to,
Forty-Second Street.

View of stage from the balcony

The Verdict

The Candlelight Dinner Playhouse delivers on all fronts – from fine dining-restaurant quality meals to a Broadway quality performance of 42nd Street.

Directions and Parking Advice

Although the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse claims an address in Johnstown, Colorado (4747 Marketplace Drive), it is actually about 4 miles outside the town, located very conveniently just off I-25.

It’s only about an hour drive south from Cheyenne, WY – and less than that from Fort Collins! – or an hour’s drive north from Denver – depending on traffic of course.

Take exit 254 to the frontage road (where you’ll pass the “historic” Johnstown Corner ginormous truck stop), and go right for about .8 mile, to turn onto Marketplace Drive on your left. You’ll pass an RV broker on your left, and then come to the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse also on your left.

The parking lot is large enough for all comers.

Theatre Bookstore Ad

This entry was posted in Entertainment, Theatre Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.