Feast with the Beast

Toby's Dinner Theatre's Canton location kicks off with Disney's take on a classic fairy tale


Tomorrow, Toby's Dinner Theatre, which has been in Columbia for the past 27 years, will open a second location, in Baltimore at the newly remodeled Best Western Hotel and Conference Center in Canton.

Featuring a four-course buffet and live orchestra, Toby's Baltimore plans to inaugurate its state-of the art performance space with an 11-week run of Walt Disney's Beauty and The Beast, directed by owner Toby Orenstein.

The production, which comes off a six-month engagement at the original Toby's, has been revamped to suit the 300-seat auditorium built in conjunction with the renovation of the hotel.

"The stage is huge," Orenstein said. "It's a modified thrust with revolve and wonderful lights and sound."

A graduate of New York's High School of the Performing Arts and Columbia University, Orenstein has been involved in Washington-area theater for decades. In 1975, she founded the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts, a nonprofit organization for arts education. Today, CCTA is the umbrella organization for Toby's Youth Theater, a professional company that produces five educational shows a year and brings them to local venues.

Toby's Dinner Theatre in Columbia, which opened in 1979, also offers a five-show season of major musicals, for which it has received nearly 40 Helen Hays nominations. In 2002, Orenstein took home the award for her direction of Jekyll and Hyde.

Janet Campbell, director of sales and marketing for the hotel and conference center, said, "When the hotel came under new management and the new owners wanted to reopen the dinner theater, I suggested Toby's because of their reputation. [Attending a performance of Miss Saigon] convinced the owner that the partnership was a good thing.

"This provides something for families to do in the evening -- something that Baltimore needs."

Productions of Footloose, Ragtime, It's a Wonderful Life and The Full Monty are slated to round out the season. Subscriptions and gift certificates are available.

Performances of "Beauty and the Beast" run seven nights a week. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; doors open at 5 p.m. Sunday. Matinees begin at 10:30 a.m. Thursday and Sunday. Prices are $43-$48.50 ($29-$48.25 for children). For booking information, contact the box office at 410-649-1660.


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