Toby’s Dinner Theatre
I love a good musical and I love going to see plays. We are fortunate to live so close to Baltimore that we can see Broadway caliber shows without having to trek it four hours to New York City to take them in. But sometimes, even the drive to Baltimore (and the ticket price) is a bit too much for the best of us. That’s why I was so happy to find Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Columbia, a slice of Broadway right in Howard County.
If you’ve never been to a dinner theater, it goes something like this: You go to a large restaurant where you get to indulge in a buffet style dinner with generous portions and something for everyone’s taste, have a few drinks, and then get to watch a professionally directed and produced show without having to even leave the restaurant. The show is done ‘in the round’, which is to say that the stage is in the middle of the room, giving a different vantage point to the story for everyone. This does mean, though, that you aren’t always seeing the ‘front’ of the action. There are definitely good seats and bad seats in the house. Seating is assigned, and I believe it is based on when you buy your tickets. I’m guessing this because I’ve had bad seats when we bought tickets the night before, and have had good seats when we planned ahead. I would definitely suggest planning your visit to Toby’s ahead of time to get the best seats.
Although it is a dinner theater, I was preface this by saying that I was more interested in the show than the dinner. That being, said, since I’m paying for it, I still expect a good meal. The food didn’t blow me away, but it was well-prepared, and they offered various options which included a carving board with ham, roast beef, and turkey. A friend that I was with is a vegetarian; he was less than impressed with the offerings but was still able to have a full meal. The desserts were delightful, including a self-serve ice cream sundae bar. The coolest thing about the dinner is that the actors are also the wait staff. I thought this was so cool! They were in full dress, and many of them stayed in character while waiting on us. Since it’s a buffet, it’s mostly getting us drinks, bussing the tables and getting us our checks, but it’s still pretty cool to get to interact with the actors.
The last time I visited Toby’s Dinner Theatre, we saw Beauty and the Beast. When I say this is a professionally produced show, I mean it in every sense of the word. This isn’t high school theater. The costumes were beautiful, and they adapted the show to the stage well. The lighting and sound engineering was top notch and the choreography was on point. But of course, the real draw to the show was the fantastic actors. Whoever does the casting at Toby’s seems to find the perfect people for each part, with great acting and wonderful voices. So that there is always something new to see, Toby’s Dinner Theatre produces a new show every two to three months.
Toby’s Dinner Theatre makes a fun night out at a great price. To find out what show they are currently running, ticket prices and showtimes, check out their website at http://tobysdinnertheatre.com for more information.