Atlantic Canada’s longest running Feast Dinner Theatre is heating things up and reinventing the game to mark its milestone year. It kicks off the season with their new musical comedy Up in Smoke.
The show, which taps into the current political climate, begins with three sisters inheriting their great grandfather’s farm, including his hefty mortgage. The cash-strapped Simpson sisters decide the best way forward is to gather investments by creating a marijuana-growing operation.
Temperatures are about to rise when a banker comes looking for his money. An American—hailing God, guns and Trump—shows up wanting to invest, along with a Hells Angels biker that believes it’s all good for “business.”
Will the plan for the three sisters go up in smoke or, will there be a star-spangled silver lining? “Nothing ever goes smoothly when six big personalities are in the room,” says Sherri-Lee Pike, the artistic director.
The music evokes clips from previous shows that stretch back 40 years, all while dining on a new chef-inspired menu. “Food is a big part of the experience when guests come to the show, so this year we have a chef coming specifically to switch things up. We’re going all out,” says Pike. “We also have the biggest directing team involved. Normally we have three directors, and this year we have five.”
Briane Nasimok was hired in 1978 to help develop the dinner theatre format, which opened at Summerside’s Brothers Two restaurant in 1979. Nasimok, with owner-operator Don Groom, created the original show, The Governor’s Feast, which ran for five years. Nasimok, who is a writer, actor and director, will make a guest appearance where it all began.
“Looking back, the show might not have been our best, but we knew from the first performance that we had found a concept that worked, never necessarily thinking that it would last for so long,” Says Nasimok, who helped put together Up in Smoke to mark the occasion.
Since the original show, there have been more than 150 productions, seen by half a million people.
Says Nasimok, “After 40 years, we’re still going strong because of the passion, the talent and the commitment. As I look back I think about the number of brilliant performers and creators that have been through the dinner theatre. For many it was their first professional job and it meant that they learned under fire. Some have gone on to performing on the major stages across the country, careers in broadcasting on air and in the writing room, winning major awards including Geminis and giving back through teaching and mentoring. We hope that this show (Up in Smoke) touches on a lot of relevant themes that relates directly to our audience.”
Shows run Tuesday to Saturday and begin at Brothers Two and the Rodd Charlottetown on June 23.