A dinner theater in your retirement community? Yes! With a little bit of work, your independent living residents can have a unique dining experience right in their own community. You can make this a stand alone event or include it as a part of a theme night or week of themed events. There are many different sources that can present the show for you. Take a look on the Internet, with local talent agents, or in your local college's theater departments for possible performers. You may even have a troupe of residents who can put on one terrific show for the rest of your retirement community.
I selected a professional company to bring our first dinner theater to our community. They were a fun group and the residents enjoyed their performance. I opted for a western themed show, it was called "Yer Cheatin' Heart... Just Stopped Beatin." I decorated the auditorium using the western theme and asked the servers to wear their jeans and bandannas. The residents also could dress in western wear if they wanted.
The meal was provided by our kitchen staff. They set up a serving line from the back of the room and the waiters took the residents meal selections. We had prime rib or a chicken dish. Each entree included the same side dishes. We had pitchers of ice tea and lemonade on the tables for them to help themselves to. Dessert was a rocky road cheesecake. I heard comments from the residents that the event would be just as good if we had served hot dogs and hamburgers for this western theme. (Glad that resident doesn't work in the kitchen.) The best part about the evening was that I was able to charge the residents for the show (and prizes), and they used their meal cards as if they were going to one of our regular dining venues. That helped keep the cost of the night down and they did not loose a meal off of their meal plan.
We had 100 people at the dinner theater. We did not please them all of course. Some did not like the show, some did. Some had meat that was not cooked to the temperature they had requested, others thought it was all fine. As fellow activities directors, you know that is how it will always be. Overall, I think it was a fun night, gave the residents something new to talk about, and when it was all done, did not cost me a thing! Can't beat that Cowgirl!