I’ve always wondered why dinner theatre gets a bad rap; you get a meal and entertainment all under one roof, what’s to complain about? Yet dinner theatre always seems to have this stigma hanging around it; a quick online search will tell you plenty about how it was thought of even during its popularity boom in the 70’s and 80’s. Some versions of dinner theatre still persist despite its boom being long over, and we have some great options right here in Toronto.

            To start off this year, my partner bought us tickets to Medieval Times for me for Christmas. I was thrilled; I’ve loved going to Medieval Times since I was a youngster and he’d never been, so I was elated that I’d get to experience his first performance with him. At its core, Medieval Times is large scale dinner theatre. For those of you who haven’t been, you get to have a delicious meal while you watch horses perform and actors participate in a Medieval style tournament. You sit in sections which support one of the knights competing, with much cheering and jeering encouraged. It’s so much fun. However, this trip I got thinking about the whole experience on a practical level, wondering how many times do they have to do fight call? Do they really get to use the full amount of weapons alongside the arena, or do they have to choose the same things show after show? How on Earth can you cook that many chickens when you do 3 shows in a Saturday? It’s a logistical marvel. And the sport is wildly entertaining, as sometimes the knights do genuinely miss a blow with the lance or one of the tiny rings they’re supposed to collect. If you haven’t gone lately, they do have a new show on with new music and everything, so it’s always worth the visit.

            Two other local and more traditional dinner theatres I know I’ve attended in the past are Stage West and the Famous PEOPLE Players. I saw Forever Plaid at Stage West on a school trip and rather loved it. Unfortunately, Stage West is no more, however Famous PEOPLE Players is still alive and kicking and I definitely think they’re worth a visit if you haven’t been (or a trip back if you have!). Famous PEOPLE Players uses blacklight and puppetry for all of their shows, creating a unique spectacle the whole family can enjoy. The performers and servers at Famous PEOPLE Players all have different ability levels, and the company provides them with plenty of opportunities both on and off stage. This has been founder Diane Dupuy’s focus since the beginning and I remember thinking how awesome that was when I attended. I’m certainly going to be going back soon now that I live in Toronto; I can’t wait to experience their magic again!

            From a practical standpoint, dinner theatre is fabulous because, let’s be real here, if you’re already out for a show you’re going to want dinner too, right? Right. And who wants to try and find TWO places to park, likely at different locations and likely with both of those locations costing you. Dinner theatre allows for both full experiences under one roof, and for this gal on the go, that’s exactly the kind of convenience I’m looking for!

            So the next time you’re looking for something to do for a night out, look no further than your local dinner theatres. I can guarantee you there are many more that I’m missing here in the GTA, I’m just talking about the ones I’ve been able to personally experience. I’ve got links to both shows here:

Famous PEOPLE Players – Where Special Happens

Toronto, ON | Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament

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