Circa 21 Dinner Playhouse is an entire evening of entertainment. What could be more fun than seeing a live production, not having to find a restaurant before or after and even being serenaded by your multi-talented wait staff? That is what you get with your ticket at the Circa 21 Dinner Playhouse.
Tables for dining and watching the show are set on levels with plenty of room between tables. That was a nice surprise; you really don’t feel as if you are on top of your neighbors even though with the people above and below, you obviously are.
The building is historic and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Notice all the original details that are still visible. Of particular interest is the head of the Indian Chief Blackhawk. Known as the Fort Armstrong Theatre for 55 years, it was constructed in 1921. Originally it was a Vaudeville and silent movie house but by the 1970’s had fallen into disrepair. The building was rescued by Denny Hitchcox who saved it from being razed and turned into a parking lot. The playhouse celebrated its 37th season in 2013 so as you can imagine, there are thousands of grateful patrons.
The original auditorium which could hold over 1500 people now seats 344. There are six or seven main stage shows per year and subscriptions are available. Dinner is a buffet with plenty of delicious choices. The buffet is set up on the first level near the stage on the right hand side. You can order alcoholic drinks which are not included in the ticket price. Dessert is served separately and should be ordered early enough so that it can be delivered at the appropriate time. You have a choice of having it after the pre-show or during intermission. We ordered the strawberry shortcake for intermission and it was both huge and delicious.
The wait-staff, known as “bootleggers”, do a warm up show. It is amazing to see your waiter or waitress dancing and singing their heart out and they all have great voices.
The quality of the show was excellent. Not quite Broadway but better than most local theater. The people that perform here have to audition and many of them have had extensive experience on Broadway and around the country. If you are going to be in the Quad-Cities, be sure to check what is playing at the playhouse and book your tickets in advance so that you are not disappointed.