Dinner-show gives actors new, more hectic performing experience

Gennifer Geer, Managing Editor

Going to a play and going to a restaurant are typically two different experiences.
At a play, you buy your ticket and find a seat inside the theater.
At a restaurant, a waiter shows you to your table.
At a play, you watch actors silently.
At a restaurant, you chat with the people you came with.
Plays provide entertainment. Restaurants provide food.
Blue Valley’s latest Repertory Theatre (Rep Theatre) show provided both.
It’s certainly something new, and for the first time in BV’s performing arts history, BV put on a dessert theatre show Feb. 19 and 20.
“Check, Please!” detailed a series of blind dates, all going wrong. The cast was the Rep Theatre class with Advanced Acting students working as waiters.
Because the play’s “stage” is tables in the Performing Arts Center (PAC) or the Black Box Theater, it presented a new challenge for the actors.
“We can’t have mics,” sophomore Allison Bili said.
Billi said certain tables were set on platforms. That elevated the actors, making it easier to see them. Other tables were placed around those.
The tables for the audience came equipped with menus – er, programs. Each “menu” listed desserts on the back, with each dessert name a play on words with the names of the actors.
“It’s supposed to look like a menu, but it’s also our program,” Bili said. “It has all our names in it and each of us is a different dessert.”
Though there were nearly 30 desserts on the program, the audience received their choice from four options: cherry pie, apple pie, white cake and chocolate cake. As for drinks, the play provided water or lemonade.
Advanced Acting students carried these foods to the audience members, and the students performed other jobs for the play.
Freshman Emily Ho made a habit of greeting each show attendee with, “Hi, welcome to Reppie’s.”
Ho acted as hostess, selling tickets and assigning people to tables.
She said the job was frantic, but it wasn’t difficult. Seating people was no challenge to her.
“If they had a reservation, that was cool,” said Ho. “If they didn’t, that was cool, too.”
After the audience was seated in either the Black Box Theater or the PAC, the shows began.
Two shows ran simultaneously both performance nights. They were staggered, one starting 15 minutes after the first. This allowed time for actors to cycle between the rooms, but some felt it was still hectic.
“[Actors] were running across the halls,” Ho said.
Bili said the actual acting experience was also different, and it required different skills. She said she and other actors had to learn to act natural when they didn’t have lines.
“In ‘Twelve Angry Jurors,’ you had to talk and do things and you got up, but this, you’re just at a table for 45 seconds to 4 minutes,” Bili said. “It just ranges to figure out what to do with yourself and how to act.”
As is common in BV comedies, the play involved antics to make the audience laugh.
One scene involved senior Cody Gadberry wearing only a trash bag.
“That’s my favorite scene,” Bili said. “He says ‘What?’ and they say ‘Check, please.’ That’s the only thing they say, but I will always laugh when I see that.”