You might expect the dinner theatre experience at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel to be a tony affair. You are right.
However, it is also warm, inviting and fun – and that credit goes to hotel staff who excel at making everyone feel comfortable and relaxed.
Arriving 30 minutes before the doors open at 7pm leaves you plenty of time to check your coat, order a pre-dinner cocktail and chat with other guests, or just people watch from one of the many tables or couches in the lounge area. If you’re a very eager beaver, you can pop into the Snug Pub for a quick one or Kate’s Café for a double espresso if it’s been a long day and you want a little pick-me-up.
The David Foster Theatre is a beautiful space with a somewhat small stage that is utilized carefully by those upon it. For dinner theatre, tables are laid out to accommodate guests and this night ranged from a table for one to a table for seven. Couples enjoying date night were aplenty and the pair in front of us were delighting in some hand holding and shared whispers, which was sweet to see – especially as they appeared to be well into their 80s – honeymoon maybe?
The food was delicious. The appetizer was a prawn carpaccio truffle puree, herb green and honey citrus vinaigrette; the main, an herb crusted pork tenderloin with red wine demi-glaze; and for dessert, opera cake with bailey sauce and seasonal berries. As a non-meat eater, I enjoyed a salmon fillet instead of the pork, which was as well-prepared as the pork which was receiving rave reviews from the other diners at my table.
After dessert, we settled back to enjoy the production of I Do, I Do, a musical about marriage originally presented on Broadway in 1966 – but not before our host informs us that if we are in need of another drink during the production, we can simply refer to the card on our table, send a text to the bartender and libations will be delivered directly – a terrific option for those spending the night at the hotel, or cabbing it home.
The production, which runs at the hotel Friday and Saturday nights through March 7, follows couple Agnes and Michael through the peaks and valleys of married life.
Sue Doman (Agnes) and Stan Davis (Michael) are both stalwarts of the Victoria music scene. Doman has led the Starlight Pops since its inception in 2003 (she is also its founder), the Friends of Government House Singers and the Newcombe Singers.
Davis performs regularly at the hotel, including its production of Forever Plaid and Four Neat Guys. Sports enthusiasts may recognize his voice from regular gigs singing the national anthem at the Q Centre and Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.
While Davis doesn’t carry the street cred Doman does in his performance record – and Doman boasts a three-octave range – his voice is strong and steady, creating a nice balance between the two on stage.
The play follows a somewhat predictable course, and aside from a couple of pauses when the actors were delayed backstage, flows neatly, garnering giggles and sighs in all the right places proving the highs and lows of married life are quite unchanged after nearly half a century.
Doman and Davis are proficiently accompanied off stage by keyboardist Peter Rothauser.
In all, the dinner theatre experience is one we all should enjoy at least once, unless you find yourself saying “I Do, I Do” to a second helping.