Event Spotlight: Dinner Theater for a Memorable Night Out

Dinner and a show, what a wonderful combination! Most of the time it involves lounging on the sofa at home with Netflix and last night’s leftovers. But when you’re in the mood for something truly special, an extravagant live performance and a lavish buffet dinner can truly be spectacular. The Dinner Theater at the John Carver Inn & Spa combines the best of the stage – and the kitchen. Our 2019 Dinner Theater lineup offers some long-time favorites like Jon Stetson, Comedy on the Road, Mobfellas, Murder Most Medieval and Finnegan’s Wake, alongside some exciting shows like Reunions Can Be Murder and Whose Wedding is it Anyway? This theatrical banquet is a wonderful way to spend a night out.


Before it’s time to eat, let’s take a look at the history of dinner theater and how it’s changed over the years. The earliest form of “dinner and a show” could be traced back to the Madrigal dinners of the Middle Ages. During the Middle Ages and continuing well into the Renaissance, the holiday season was a time when European Christians traveled great distances to the castles of wealthy friends and family members to feast, sing, dance and exchange news in a celebration that lasted several days. The banquet at Christmas, as on other great holidays, was not a single meal, but rather a series of festive feasts filled with merriment, singing and pageantry. After prayers around the table, trumpet fanfare signaled the service of specific courses and dishes within the feast. Guests danced, told stories, acted out scenes of plays and sang festive songs. Historical reenactments of Madrigal dinners are still popular today, but what we think of as dinner theater – having your meal and watching a show at the same time – got its start in the 1950s in America.


The Barksdale Theater in Richmond, Virginia, was one of the first in the country. The theater featured plays with a buffet-style spread in a separate room. The Drury Lane Dinner Theater opened in the Chicago area in 1958 and featured musicals and food for almost 50 years. But it was Howard Douglas Wolf who really took the idea of dinner theater and developed it. Wolf created a huge 27-theater franchise. His concept, known as The Barn Dinner Theater, emphasizing a rustic, country feeling, started in 1961. The plays were all developed in New York City, and then actors traveled to the various theaters and lived on site, not only performing, but also serving food. Now, all but one of the old Barn Dinner Theaters is gone. In the past, dinner theaters used to feature former movie stars, TV actors or celebrities as a draw, but not as much anymore. Musicals and light comedies with broad appeal were often favored, but now audiences can find interactive murder-mystery style shows or audience-participation experiences as well as more traditional productions.


The Dinner Theater at the John Carver Inn

Join us for an unforgettable experience as we present for your entertainment a variety of live performances and interactive shows. Fun, food, spirits, and entertainment– all in one memorable night! Spend an evening with Jon Stetson, known as America’s Master Mentalist, for an exciting and intelligent night of interactive fun. Or, visit the John Carver Inn and be transported into the world of Clue! You’ll come to dine as the guests of Mr. Boddy, but when your host is found dead, a private investigator needs your help figuring out who did it, what weapon was used, and where the crime took place. Was it Miss Scarlet with the candlestick in the Music Room? Or perhaps Professor Plum used the revolver in the Gun Room? Interrogate the suspects, collect the clues, and solve the mystery while enjoying a decadent buffet.


Want to spend the night after the show? Book the Dinner Theater Overnight Package for one night in our spectacular hotel, enjoy the dinner buffet and show of your choice, as well as a breakfast voucher. During your stay at the John Carver Inn, be sure to enjoy all of our amenities, including our new indoor water park, heated outdoor pool and fitness room. Feel liking being pampered? The Beach Plum Spa at the John Carver Inn is a relaxing respite, offering a variety of spa services and treatments. Indulge in a Peppermint Pedicure or a Deep Tissue Massage while on your weekend getaway. The Dinner Theater at the John Carver Inn will take place on dates between January 19th and April 6th. Additional shows take place at the Cape Codder Resort & Spa in Hyannis.