Sunday, December 8, 2013

desert star

'Tis the season for holiday shindigs and Friday night we joined the folks from H's office for an evening of dinner theater at the Desert Star Playhouse (4861 S. State St., Murray).  The Desert Star has been putting on locally written and produced original musical comedies since 1989, spoofs of popular movies, television shows and Broadway musicals.  The theater has a gorgeous, Wild West/old-timey neon marquee and the building itself is pretty cool inside, the lobby decorated with wide pine boards, photographs from throughout the years and taxidermied animal heads, festooned with twinkly Christmas lights for the holiday season.

We got there around 6 p.m. and were directed to the balcony seats where our group would be.  The main floor is lined with counter-like tables and chairs; upstairs where we were, two-tiered two-tops ensured that all diners could see the stage.  As a live pianist played, we talked with some folks from H's office and ate our salads.  A young waitress circled the tables, taking people's entree orders: your choice of pork (the waitress was careful to assure diners that the wine in the marsala sauce was all cooked off), beef or chicken.  We both went with chicken and were brought our dinners a short time later - very well-done chicken breast with feta cheese and sundried tomatoes, served with mashed potatoes and mixed veggies.  A little dish of chocolate pudding and a big glass of sparkling fruit punch rounded out the meal.

The fruit punch matches the curtains!

The show itself was "Miracle on 42nd Street," a spoof of Miracle on 34th Street, obviously.  Plot synopsis: a producer is putting on a stage show starring Joan "Quivers" and "Santa Claws" but a rival theater owner is trying to shut the show down.  The stage manager Billy, the producer's assistant Sarah, Sarah's daughter Natalie and Joan Quivers team up to save the show and end up revealing the true Santa Claus (playwright Kris Kringle) to the world.  Before the show, the audience was taught musical cues so we would know when to boo the villain and cheer the heroes.

H and I are not the Desert Star's target audience.  We thought the food was mediocre and the show was amateurish, but an internet search will pull up rave review after rave review.  The theater was full and many people appeared to be repeat attendees, which I think is great.  There were some technical difficulties and dropped lines but the audience enthusiastically laughed, applauded and booed the villain right on cue.  Although most of the jokes were (to us) old, tired and simply unfunny (lots of references to Joan "Quivers's" plastic surgeries, for example), the family-friendly show's writers had packed it full of local events, locations and cultural references which the rest of the audience seemed to enjoy.  While we won't go back to the Desert Star again, it is clear that there are plenty of people around who love this little theater.

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