Newly formed Imagine company will separate the dinner from the theater

August 05, 1994|By Patrick Hickerson | Patrick Hickerson,Contributing Writer

The actor doubling as a waiter during intermission is a staple of dinner theater. But one new company seeks to put some distance between the two roles.

The Imagine Repertory Theatre Company makes its inaugural performance tonight with Will Osborne and Anthony Herrera's mystery/comedy "Smoke & Mirrors" at the 110-seat Drama Learning Center in Jessup.

Patrons may take advantage of a deal between the theatrical company and two area restaurants in which a theater menu will be offered at the restaurant that includes a meal and ticket to the play.

Tickets will be offered for "Dinner Theatre Specials" by Avanti's Restaurant in Jessup and Pecoraro's Restaurant in Elkridge during performances this weekend and next.

Prices for the meal and show range from $22.95 to $29.95 a person.

Performance-only tickets will be sold at the Drama Learning Center.

Imagine Repertory Theatre Company is directed by Paul Sekulich, who is not unfamiliar with dinner theater. He acted at the Limestone Dinner Theatre in Cockeysville during the '70s and early '80s when it was one of four Actors' Equity dinner theaters in the Baltimore area. The other three were Oregon Ridge, Bolton Hill and Garland's -- which later became Toby's.

Limestone Dinner Theatre ceased to be an Equity theater in 1984. Mr. Sekulich reopened at the site in 1992 as the Limestone Cafe Theatre, which lasted until January. He was its general manager and directed some of the plays.

The Imagine Repertory Theatre grew out of the cafe theater's closing.

"We have a lot of interested people who said, 'We don't want to let this go just because we lost a physical plant,' " Mr. Sekulich said.

One of the company's fliers proclaims: "The former Limestone Cafe Theatre Players are still at it."

The troupe, made up of actors who have worked at college and non-Equity theaters, plans another performance in December.

Mr. Sekulich, a 1972 graduate of UMBC's theater program, wrote and auditioned for the television comedy show "Cheers" when he lived in Los Angeles from 1981 to 1985.

He has also written four screenplays, two television episodes, a concept for a series and five plays, including "Moose, Why Are There Walnuts In The Medicine Cabinet?" That was the last play performed at the Bolton Hill Dinner Theatre, which closed in 1985.

He hopes the link between restaurants and performance venues will catch on with incentives for restaurants-goers to become theater-goers, as at the newly formed Dinner & Show Productions of Cockeysville.

"You could go to any restaurant on the roster and get a dinner theater special and get a discount coupon, then go to any subscribing theater or movie house and use the coupon," Mr. Sekulich said.

He said his company plans to offer a $2 discount coupon to participating restaurants in the future.

"Smoke & Mirrors," which has been called an inspiration for Tim Robbins' movie "The Player," is set on an island seven miles off the Mississippi coast during the summer.

In the play, movie producer and director Hamilton Orr calls for a retreat with the screenwriter Clark Robinson and the insufferable lead actor Derek Coburn to discuss a sequel to a successful movie.

Orr's wife, Barbara, the film's publicist, joins the trio.

Mr. Orr and Mr. Robinson agree to murder Coburn rather than have him act in their movie.

In the two-act play, the second half involves local sheriff Leroy P. Lumpkin figuring out who committed the murder.

"The play and the movie are totally different. If you saw ["The Player"] and see the play, you would have a hard time connecting the plot lines," said Mr. Sekulich.

A mystery aficionado and friend of Mr. Sekulich commented after seeing the play,

"I figured four endings to the play, and none were right," he said.

The cast of "Smoke & Mirrors" is Bob Perry as Hamilton Orr,

Conni Ross as Barbara Orr, Garrett Bateman as Clark Robinson, Daniel Gorelick-Feldman as Derek Coburn and Jim Farrier as Sheriff Leroy P. Lumpkin.

The Imagine Repertory Theatre Company will present "Smoke & Mirrors" at 8 p.m. today, tomorrow and Aug. 12 and 13 at the Drama Learning Center, The Micro Star Building, 10620 Guilford Road, Suite 206 in Jessup.

Tickets are $8. For advance reservations call 321-0510. Tickets may be purchased the evening of the performance at the Drama Learning Center.

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