In the 1930s, big bands and lauded musicians played a famous bar called Weilers and would one day become Memories Dinner Theater. The music bounced off the very same 2,500-square-foot maple dance floor, tamarack log ceiling, and twin stone fireplaces that remain today, though Memories has since expanded its entertainment options beyond song and dance.
As guests feast on three-course meals, the theater's roster of top-notch actors tackle dramas, musicals, audience-interactive murder mysteries, and comedies. The laughs continue on Chicken Comedy nights, when funnyman Rob Haswell hosts renowned comedians whose jokes keep diners chortling in between bites not of rubber, but of broasted chicken and food from an unlimited buffet.
The Equinox Jazz Orchestra delivers soul to the stage, paying tribute to influential songwriter Johnny Mercer. At the Mostly Mercer Show, the band aurally embraces the audience with classic American songs, including “Fools Rush In,” “Days of Wine and Roses,” and “Blues in the Night.” Ears perk up at the sound of fondly remembered tunes such as “Moon River,” a greater success than either “Star Stream” or “Orbiting Celestial Body Waterfall.” Enjoy the high-octane trumpet wails and southern groove of band leader Jeremy Davis’s professional ensemble as it performs an original arrangement of Mercer’s music, specially commissioned by the Friends of Johnny Mercer to mark the songsmith’s centennial.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction and demonstrations.
Girls Night: The Musical will bring to the stage of the 14th Street Theatre a heartfelt, comedic story of five friends celebrating their history and future together while embarking on an epic night of karaoke. Actresses belt out renditions of such female classics as "It's Raining Men," "I Will Survive," and “Lady Marmalade” amid vibrant set pieces. Theater seating harkens back to intimate cabarets of yore, with up to four seats and a Dean Martin wax figure adorning each table. Groupon holders receive the best non-VIP seats possible (any table other than tables A-G) upon the redemption of their vouchers at the theater's will-call station.
The Fox Bay Cinema Grill marquee lights up the theater's outdoor marble ticket kiosk, transporting moviegoers to a bygone era of the silver screen. Renovated in 2000, the spacious art-deco theater drapes its large screens in scarlet curtains, and wraparound, swivel lounge chairs and tables wait to support patrons as they immerse themselves in the digital sound and projection pouring forth from the latest Hollywood hits. The theater doesn't only sate the imagination's appetite with lush filmscapes; servers shell out light finger foods and hearty pizzas and sandwiches throughout the movie, quieting growling bellies that may otherwise spoil the film's ending. Though not included with this deal, alcohol is available via Fox Bay's wait staff and at the lobby bar.
There aren't a lot of theater stages that can claim to have hosted presidential speeches—and fewer yet for which that president was William Howard Taft. Opened in 1883, the Grand Opera House has seen performances by the likes of Mark Twain, Harry Houdini, and John Philip Sousa, among other culture-makers of distant generations. Across a century and a quarter, the magnificent auditorium has played the parts of a vaudeville venue and a movie theater, and it wasn't until the mid-'80s that the stage resumed its duties as an opera house. After a sweeping referendum, the city acquired and restored the building, and in 1986 it reopened with a new staging of The Bohemian Girl—the same work that had first lifted its curtains more than a 100 years earlier. Today, 660 can enjoy the opera house's historic magnificence: an enormous, staggered chandelier, cherubic murals across the ceiling and flanking the balcony, and an unmatched ambiance of crimson and gold grandeur.