It’s a classic pairing: Dinner and a show. Or, sometimes, a show and then dinner.
How about a show, dinner then another show?
You may have heard about the theatrical event of the season — and I don’t mean just locally; this production is getting national attention. The play is Charles Dickens’ “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby,” presented by Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF. Make that plays, plural. The production is in two parts that play in repertory for a total of just under six hours (the Orlando Shakes production has actually been pared down from the original production). Part One plays on some evenings and Part Two on others. But on select days during the run, Part One can be seen at the matinee and Part Two during the evening performance.
And in between, the theatergoers have an opportunity to have dinner at one of the nearby restaurants. Who would be crazy enough to do such a thing? Well, I would. And 12 of my friends. And a bunch of other people, because both performances for Saturday, the first day that both parts can be seen together, are sold out. And so are the dining options at the official partner restaurant, White Wolf Cafe. White Wolf Cafe has a $35 Victorian Dinner menu with a choice of Brunswick stew, roast beef, roast chicken or pasta. Although it is sold out for tomorrow’s mid-theater dinner, White Wolf has some availability for other marathon days (although Feb. 15, the next date for the two parts to be seen on the same day, is close to being sold out, as well).
Citrus Restaurant has stepped up, too, and is offering a 20 percent discount off the total bill when guests show their same-day ticket stub. In this instance, I suppose, you could take advantage of the discount even if you’re not doing both parts. (Seeing the two plays on the same day is not required.)
The reason this production is getting national attention is that it is rarely performed. Besides the length, the plays require dozens of costumes for the 27 actors who play multiple parts. According to co-director Jim Helsinger, this is the single largest production ever performed in Orlando. The theater company’s partnership with UCF helped make that possible. The school’s theater department handled some of the costume and scenery tasks, and student actors are playing roles beside the professional actors hired by Orlando Shakes.
Doing the dinner thing between the two parts isn’t required of course. If you live nearby you could spend the a couple of hours at home, resting, doing some stretches for the second half. But I think joining others who are experiencing this special event with you will be part of the fun.
And you’re certainly not required to have dinner at White Wolf Cafe or Citrus, although I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t take advantage of a good deal at a good restaurant. But other nearby options are there, too. You might visit The Ravenous Pig or Carmel Cafe, Funky Monkey Wine Company or any of the other restaurants in the Mills 50 district.
For a list of other marathon performances of “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby” and to secure theater and dinner reservations, visit the Orlando Shakespeare Theater website or call the box office at 407-447-1700.
Oh, and if you’re traveling from out of town — and as I mentioned before, people are coming from all over the country for this rare performance — Shakes has also arranged some lodging specials.