Tuesday, February 08, 2000

New dinner theater to open in Harrison

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        From the songwriting team who brought you Fiddler on the Roof and She Loves Me, and the producers who bring you a summer season aboard the Showboat Majestic comes the grand opening of a new dinner theater.

        When Riverwind Dinner Theatre opens at the Plantation with The Apple Tree on Thursday, longtime fans of the dinner-and-a-show formula will recognize the Plantation as the former Beef 'N' Boards. It's now a party center on Dry Fork Road in Harrison.

        Fans of the Showboat, moored at the Public Landing downtown, will recognize Showboat veterans onstage.

        Michelle Koopman, Mark Helphinstine and Dave Angle play in a collection of musical vignettes, including Jules Feiffer's Passionella and Mark Twain's funny and poignant The Diary of Adam and Eve, the inspiration for the musical's title.

        “It will be the Showboat with food,” promises Riverwind producer and Showboat managing director Denny Reed. “It's our niche.”

        Conversation about a winter home for the Showboat crew and a dinner theater venue for Greater Cincinnati started a year ago, when Plantation owners Bob and Nancy Ford approached the Showboat production team.

        The Plantation has heavy summer and holiday bookings, but was looking for a draw during off months.

        They settled on a two-show tryout season for Riverwind. The Apple Tree continues through Feb. 27. The musical spoof Forever Plaid (which goofs on harmonizing '50s quartets) takes the stage March 9-26. The production was originally staged at Falcon Players.

        Then it's back to home base and the opening of Showboat's six-month summer season with On the Town on April 26.

        The Plantation's show room won't have the tiers of seats familiar to audiences at Beef 'N' Boards and La Comedia in Springboro. The show room accommodates 166 diners on a single level with the stage elevated at one end of the room.

        Mr. Reed doesn't rule out an autumn season, depending on response to Riverwind.

        • What: The Apple Tree

        • When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Dinner served 90 minutes prior to curtain time.

        • Where: Riverwind Dinner Theatre, The Plantation, Dry Fork Road (1/2 mile north of I-74), Harrison.

        • Tickets: $28-$32. (513) 319-5239.


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