In the world of entertainment there are few experiences like that of a dinner theater. Everyone involved is there because of their love for the stage, working together to create an environment where the audience can escape from the troubles of everyday life and enjoy a quality meal while taking in a timeless show. It’s an exciting endeavor for everyone involved. For the cast and team at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse there are a number of reasons to be excited right now. They’ve just kicked off their 14th season of plays, they’ve got a talented new head chef running the show in the kitchen, and for the first time in a long time, they’re able to have a full cast and full seats in their audience.
First built by current owner and executive producer Dave Clark’s construction company over 12 years ago, the theater has been a front range mainstay ever since. Clark had an unexpected career shift when the Great Recession of 2008 forced him to close his construction company. He decided then to begin investing his time, energy, and business sense in Candlelight, who’s original owner was struggling through the recession as well. A long time theater lover but never a participant, there was plenty to learn, although he says the business aspects came easily to him.
“It’s really just, make the black numbers bigger than the red numbers,” Clark told us of how he viewed his role when first stepping into the business, though he acknowledges that he’s had to learn a lot along the way. “My success has been getting the right people in here.”
After our most recent economic downturn Clark is ready to get things running at full speed again. Hoping to help him along the way is new Head Chef, Rode Roberts. After working for years as an executive chef and some time working in scratch kitchens Roberts jumped at the opportunity to work in dinner theatre. While he admits the banquet style dinners come with their own unique challenges he’s enjoyed rising to the occasion by designing tailored menus for each show and applying his skills and experience to ensure guests are served meals that don’t skip on flavor or quality. Developing healthy, delicious meals is just a part of what he sees as his role.
“I want to give people a lot of opportunities for natural flavors,” Rode says of his approach to cooking. “We want to do a lot of in house cooking overnight, where we can really evolve the flavor, we’re going to do it.”
If you ask a Candlelight team member which person is most excited to be returning to full productions and crowds, there’s a good chance you’ll hear the name Jalyn Webb in response. Now serving as the playhouse’s sales and marketing manager Webb has spent her entire career in the industry, working as a performer, a vocal and theater director and still performing in some productions to this day.
“You have this four hour haven of time to just disappear into something that is entertaining, moving, and tells a story,” Webb says, describing the special experience they create in the theater.
Webb is carrying that same energy with her into this new season, describing Roberts’ menus and talents in the kitchen as “fantastic,” and boasts his ability to motivate and inspire the crew he works with in the kitchen. The show lineup for this season has also given her cause to be jazzed, featuring classics like Singing In The Rain, The Sound of Music and Cinderella.
Now back in the theater and operating at full capacity, Webb says she will never take what she does for granted again, “We actually get to show what we do again.”
As the Candlelight crew moves forward again, the energy is palpable. A killer lineup of shows, a re-energized kitchen, everybody finally getting back to careers put on hold. Finally, it’s showtime.