The Group Travel Leader

JUN 2017

The online home of The Group Travel Leader, America's leading publication for the group travel industry. Articles on hot destinations, attractions, news and travel trends from across the country and around the world.

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4 1 GROUP TRAVEL LE ADER T H E F I R E S I DE DI N N E R T H E A T R E F O R T A T K I N S O N , W I S C O N S I N The Fireside Dinner Theatre first opened as a restaurant in 1964, later expanding to include the theater. Since then, the third-generation, family-owned company has added four gift shops where visitors can browse specialty items like music and movie memorabilia, home decor, garden accessories and boutique handbags as they wait for shows to start. The theater offers seven shows a week year-round, with matinee performances on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Each produc- tion is accompanied by a new story-themed menu; the recent staging of "South Pacific," for example, featured savory items such as tropical salad, shrimp tempura, Hawaiian rib-eye steak and banana pudding with caramel rum sauce for dessert. "The dining is completely first-rate across the board," said Julie Nordeen, marketing manager for the company. Starting in June, "Back to the 50's" pays homage to the decade that gave the world rock 'n' roll through tributes to artists like Jerry Lee Lewis, Patsy Cline, Nat King Cole and Ricky Nelson. "Elvis Lives" treats fall audiences to performances from finalists of the international Ultimate Elvis Tribute Contest, and "Miracle on 34th Street" opens during the holidays. Any visitor with a religious background will appreciate the good- natured humor of "Church Basement Ladies," featured July through September. The comedy musical follows the antics of four well-meaning women in their church basement as they attempt to helm a community dinner, a funeral, a fundraiser and, finally, a wedding, resulting in one misadventure after the next. The Fireside is also one of the first regional theaters to obtain the rights to "Newsies" and "The Little Mermaid" as part of its 2018 lineup. W W W . F I R E S I D E T H E A T R E . C O M C I R C A ' 21 DI N N E R P L A Y H O U S E R O C K I S L A N D , I L L I N O I S Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse occupies a building in Rock Island, Illinois, that has a long history of entertainment. Originally used as a movie theater for more than 50 years, the historic building was renovated and converted into a dinner theater in 1976. Now in its 40th season, Circa '21 offers professional Broadway pro- ductions from seasoned New York directors and producers. From May to July, the theater presents a new romantic comedy called "Snapshots: A Musical Scrapbook," which blends beloved musical hits from composer Stephen Schwartz's Broadway productions like "Wicked" and "Pippin" into a heartwarming story about a middle-aged couple rediscover- ing their romantic connection. Featured July through September, the classic Western romp "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" follows the lighthearted tale of a sister who decides to play matchmaker for her six brothers and inadvertently convinces them to kidnap six brides. Music lovers can catch a performance of "Ring of Fire" between September and November, which pays homage to rock and country music legend Johnny Cash. Theater doors open two hours before the show, allowing groups plenty of time to find a table and enjoy a preshow from the servers, many of whom hold acting degrees. Circa '21 is one of two theaters in the country that features a performing waitstaff. In addition, each show comes with a distinct five-entree buffet. "We have a wonderful chef who gets really creative with the food," said Brett Hitchcock, director of audience development. "We always try to take in dietary concerns such as gluten-free and vegetarian." On the productions' off nights — Monday, Tuesday and Thursday — the theater often hosts concerts, such as Jimi Hendrix and The Eagles tribute acts. W W W . C I R C A 2 1 . C O M Courtesy Fireside Dinner eatre Courtesy Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse A TASTY TREAT FROM FIRESIDE DINNER THEATRE "LEGALLY BLONDE" AT CIRCA '21 DINNER PLAYHOUSE

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