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New Dinner Theatre Series Features Historic Setting And Movie-themed Menus

Dayton Dinner Theatre / Engineer's Club of Dayton
Jerry Kenney
Dayton Dinner Theatre

Pretend, for a moment, that you’re sitting in a restaurant with a menu in front of you. Opening it up, you see what appear to be some random food items - appetizers like Deviled Eggs, and Split Pea hummus. Under the entrees are a list of Greek-themed dishes, and for dessert - Devil’s Food Cake.

None of the items by themselves are all that strange, especially in a day and age when almost anything goes for a legion of so called foodies looking for their next culinary experience.

Then, other items on the menu get your attention - Communion wafers and cheese, and Communion grape juice shooters, red wine and Holy Water cocktails. You think to yourself, ‘Wait…. What?

But, in the restaurant scenario we’ve created here, it all starts to make sense when a familiar tune begins to play over the speakers. It’s a tune that, for a generation of moviegoers, instantly evokes memories of one of the most frightening films ever made.

The music is Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells and it would be hard to imagine another tune that could capture the eerie essence of the 1973 movie The Exorcist, the scene adaptation of William Peter Blatty's 1971 horror novel.

Forty-six years later, the movie will serve as the maiden voyage film for the new Dayton Dinner Theatre, taking place in the historic Dayton Engineers Club.

John Boucuvalas
Credit Jerry Kenney
John Boucuvalas

The dinner and a show event is a collaboration between the Engineer’s Club and local entrepreneur, John Boucuvalas, who says the events are meant to bring people together.

“Movies can be great but they can also be isolating so, we try to add in a few interactive-type ideas and along with opportunities before, and during an intermission, and after the movie for people to interact as well. So I think it's a novel idea of making a movie more of a social activity,” he says.

The film series will feature other well known movies but Boucuvalas says The Exorcist, as a kickoff event, was chosen to pay homage to the Halloween season.

“It's a classic movie but at the same time it's a little bit edgy. So, we're expecting a very eclectic crowd for this one, and then later we go into the more traditional classic movies with The Godfather, Casablanca, Caddyshack and a couple Christmas ones like Christmas Vacation and It's a Wonderful Life.”

The Dinner Theatre founder says, he expects patrons will help select the next round of films to be shown and each film will include the creatively themed food and beverage selections.

Dayton Dinner Theatre
Credit Dayton Dinner Theatre

And just as the realtor’s mantra conveys, adding to the dinner theatre experience is it’s ‘location, location, location.  The historic Engineers’ Club of Dayton (ECD) is a beautiful venue indeed. The hardwood paneling, ornate furniture, and beautifully decorated rooms throughout the club are bound to attract an audience just curious to get a peek inside.

Founded by Colonel Edward A. Deeds and Charles F. Kettering more than a hundred years ago, the club has served as a meeting and socializing hub for industry, tech, and civic leaders since 1914.

Boucuvalas hopes the partnership with the club will bring in new members for the organization but also allow community members to “appreciate one of the hidden gems that we have in the city.”

The entrepreneur also envisions the dinner theatre evolving into an event that could some social impact.

“We're hoping that after the first round of movies that we can… address some social issues. We could bring in guest speakers and have some discourse about different ideas that, movies are a great way of entertaining people, but at the same time injecting a little bit of perspective, maybe have a shift of ideas that might lead to positive social change.”

You can find information on the dinner theatre series on their website.

Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.