Derby Dinner Playhouse

Ok, so Derby Dinner Playhouse is technically not in Kentucky. It's right across the Ohio River in Clarksville, Indiana. It's also the only dinner theatre in the area. Windmill Dinner Theatre Group, which owned similar facilities in Cincinnati and Indianapolis, built Derby Dinner Playhouse in 1974. The Playhouse changed hands in 1985 when two local women bought it. Carolyn Thomas and Bekki Jo Schneider still own half of the company. The space is arranged as an arena theatre, in which the audience surrounds the stage. Also known as as a theatre-in-the-round, this configuration includes no stage curtain and little scenery and props. Every year, the Derby puts on eight main plays, four children's shows and seven concerts. Right now, Smoky Joe's Cafe and How I Became a Pirate are showing.

I took Robert to see Pirate a few weekends ago and he was enthralled. He's seen a couple of productions - Cinderella and Nutcracker - at the Sacred Heart School for the Arts, but the center stage layout at the Derby and our first row seats got him close to the action. Pirate is based on a children's book by the same name (alert to parents of young boys: if you haven't read it yet, you will) but the play is not just for kids. The acting was polished and professional and I thoroughly enjoyed the play as well. Derby holds week-long musical theatre camps in the summer (ages 7-16) and is a popular place for birthday parties. The food, which is served buffet-style, was unfortunately reminiscent of bad elementary school lunches. Even Robert, who never met a chicken nugget he wouldn't eat, refused to eat after one bite and stuck to the salad bar. He did love dessert though (it is hard to screw up ice cream). Hopefully, the food for the adult productions is better.