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Encore Dinner Theatre Opens Its Doors in Tustin

RECOMMENDED/Broadway-Sings It Again!/A Broadway Revue/directed by Conwell S.Worthington II/Encore Dinner Theatre and Club,/Tustin/runs through October 28

The newly renovated Curtain Call Dinner Theatre - now the Encore Dinner Theatre and Club in Tustin officially reopened Saturday September 29 to a packed house. From all appearances, the million+ dollar renovations have worked wonders turning an ordinary dinner theatre into an ultra swanky establishment. The food? A sit-down gourmet dinner - one of the very best I've enjoyed anywhere ... and the piece de resistance, the show? - an entertaining panorama of singing and dancing with songs from over 20 Broadway shows and featuring a bevy of talented young people... and, like a lovely package tied up with a bow, wrapped in an original entertaining story concept by Conwell S.Worthington II.

As seen through the eyes of a child (Isabella Juarez), the stage comes to vibrant life with colorful song/dance numbers from West Side Story "Tonight", Damn Yankees says "Whatever Lola Wants", "Anything Goes",

Wicked offerings with"Popularand "Defying Gravity", Chicago's "All That Jazz" and "Cellblock Tango", Les Mis' electric "Bring Him Home", Grease's rockin' "Born to Hand Jive", Rent's glorious "Seasons of Love" Cats' ever reliable "Memory" Phantom of the Opera's "All I Ask of You" and a spectacular finale with show stoppers including "Lullaby of Broadway" and "Give My Regards to Broadway". Juarez even gets the chance to enter in and sing "Part of Your World" from Little Mermaid and "Maybe" from Annie. Worthington uses a projection screen behind and a pair of staircases which are efficiently moved every which way to keep the performers in motion up and down or side to side as the case may be. The staircases are particularly effective for "The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha (JD Wiese descends it as Cervantes does in the play) and for the balcony scene of Tony and Maria (Tim Woods and Katherine Tracy) in "Tonight" from West Side Story.

All the performers add bright uplifting strokes to this excitingly vivid portrait of Broadway with extra special praise to Woods, whose great voice and presence add so much to "Tonight", "Bring Him Home", "Hand Jive" and "All I Ask of You". Wiese is terrific with "The Impossible Dream" and on a few spoken exchanges scattered throughout. Emily Carlstrom and Jaclyn Kelly are beautiful and fun as Glinda and Elphie in the Wicked Act I finale. Angeline Mirenda sizzles as Lola and leading "All That Jazz". Laleh Khorsandi brings fire to "Anything Goes" and Katherine Tracy has one of her finest moments with "On My Own" from Les Mis. Other shining performers include Hallie Mayer, Gabe Copeland, and Brandon Burks. Mindy Copeland's choreography is especially zippy in the tap numbers and in the rousing finale. Alan Crawley skillfully leads a live 10-piece orchestra. Andrew Otero's simply functional set and pretty costumes add lovely glittery touches to the very enjoyable evening.

Since Encore Dinner Theatre and Club is newly renovated, let's say a few words about its decor. It's chiquely classy with 5/6 leveled tiers of dinner tables facing the expanded stage. There's ample space at every table for total comfort during dinner and you can easily swivel your chair while watching the show. There are several beautiful chandeliers suspended around the entire room. An elegant touch: the chandeliers rise as the curtain rises.

The food is an elegantly presented gourmet dinner with 7 entrees to select from, such as Lemon Pepper Chicken, Vegetarian Lasagna, Fried Chicken and a splendid Medallion of Filet Mignon. Among the appetizers there's butternut squash Ravioli and a special nod to Chef Adrian's delectable Spicy Crabcakes with a scrumptiously homemade taste and topped with a lemon aioli. Four cakes 1000 Chip chocolate, classic cheesecake, world's best carrot and red velvet put a sinful new spin on dessert decadence. Cocktails, wine and beer and liquored coffees are also available, all reasonably priced. And the serving staff are expedient and courteous, at least on the night I attended! The evening was to die for; I'll be back, I guarantee!

Encore Dinner Theatre and Club is the new theatrical place to be in the OC. This show will play Fridays and Saturdays at 7: 30 pm (dinner seating at 6) with a Sunday lunch matinee at 1: 30 pm (lunch seating at noon). Henry Prego, the international Frank Sinatra impersonator brings his one-man show in on November 2. Be there! And remember Broadway-Sings It Again! through October 28 only!


check out their website for pertinent info and to make reservations:


JD Wiese and Tim Woods

Emily Carlstrom, Jaclyn Kelly and Angeline Mirenda

Emily Carlstrom, JD Wiese, Jaclyn Kelly, Tim Woods, Angeline Mirenda with Isabella Juarez in foreground

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