Shaken and Stirred at Teatro Martini
An Inside Look at Orange County's Vaudeville Experience
Teatro Martini proves dinner theatre is anything but old-fashioned. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings, the finest entertainers, world-class chefs, bartenders and performers fill you to your bursting point with food and laughter. Expect an unforgettable 5-course meal paired with an immersive variety show.
“The show is a callback to the early vaudevillian shows,” says Curtis Andersen, pulling double-duty as both the show manager and the well-intentioned doofus, Griff. “It’s like a vaudeville show you would have seen in the late 20s, early 30s mixed with a European dinner theatre.”
Considered low-budget and inferior to “real” theatre, dinner theatre has never really had a high reputation in America, though it’s remained hugely popular in Europe, where it’s often a family outing. Andersen, who has 30 years of TV, movie, and producing experience, thinks it deserves higher standing. “As long as you can be proud of the work, it’s worth doing,” he says. “It is more than just a dinner show. It’s a chance to bring back the great American tradition.”
The acts are pulled from all over the world and include acrobats, aerial performers, magicians, singing, dancing, and more, Teatro Martini is a variety show in the truest sense. “You never know who you’re going to get, but you’re always going to get something that wouldn’t be out of place in a Vegas showroom,” states Andersen.
Many of the performers have had the chance to be featured on TV and on stages around the globe, like magician Naathan Phan. A regular performer at Teatro Martini, he’s also been seen on America’s Got Talent and was the winner of SyFy’s Wizard Wars. They even occasionally get Stephen Chioniere, whose fugazi and Body2Body acts must be seen to be believed.
But that doesn’t mean it’s just a series of different acts; with bumbling fools, scheming, and an emcee just trying to keep it all together, you can be sure there will be plenty of comedy and drama to keep you guessing. Still, even with an overlying plot, you’ll never see the same show twice. “There’s a lot of improv,” Andersen says. “While there is a script and overview for the show, since the performers are used to thinking on their feet you get a new show each night.”
Among the variety of world-class acts, there’s also some staple characters fighting for their chance to shine. Take the trio of travelling performers; Andersen’s bumbling doofus Griff, scheming doofus Rob, and the very special Jinx. They ended up at Teatro Martini and just stuck there, helping set up the stage and whatnot, but are always trying to get into the limelight. “They’ve been trying to get their acts onto the show, and because of a small incident with the fire eater, they get that chance every show.”
But what’s dinner theatre without food? Enjoy bisque (a cast favorite), garden salad and rich cheesecake along with rotating entrees including roast chicken, braised sirloin, salmon filet along with vegetarian and vegan options on request.
“We’re not a family friendly show. That’s because there’s a lot of double entendre and sexual references.” Still, the show is hardly obscene. “We do get a little blue, but we never swear, and the nudity is never anything you wouldn’t see on a beach,” Anderson assures. The alcohol served and content of the show dictates an audience ages 18+, usually a mix of early twenties to late sixties.
Curious spectators often become regulars. “The response is like you’re at a big family gathering with lots of loud family members. Except you’ve got 15 drunk uncles instead of one.”
-By Ettractions Digital Content Editor, ALLISON BENNETT
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