A new dinner theater is in the works for the Upstate area, and the organizer is looking for a permanent space and the talent needed to get the project off the ground.
Terry L. Manigault is not new to the dinner theater arena – he operated Chef Manigault's, a dinner theater on White Horse Road in the late 80s and early 90s, but closed the theater to concentrate on other business interests, while continuing to write plays and direct shows.
But he's now ready to giver theater lovers in the area another option in the Upstate.
“The time is right,” Manigault said. “The passion has always been there. The Upstate has grown tremendously since we opened in late 1988-1989.”
His former theater drew audiences not only from the Upstate, but from Columbia, Asheville and Atlanta as well.
While the Upstate is home to a dinner theater – Cafe and Then Some, that theater focuses on satirizing the area with beloved characters including Norma Jean and Bubba.
Manigault's theater will focus on established plays as well as originals
“Musicals and comedies, possibly some mystery theater and children's theater as well,” Manigault said.
For those interested in learning more about the dinner theater, and how they can take part, drop in meetings are slated for 5pm - 7pm, Sunday, August 12 and Sunday, August 19 at Chef Manigault's, located at 28 Howe Street in Greenville's West End.
He hopes to have the theater's first show cast at the end of this month and perform the show in October.
“We're waiting on production rights,” Manigault said. “We'll do comedies – I think the world is so serious. I think the beautiful thing about Cafe and Then Some is that they do comedies. You go there and you know you're going to relax.
“That'll be what we're looking to do as well,” he continued. “You'll have an enjoyable evening of fine food and outstanding performances. People want to be entertained.”
Manigault is currently looking for a location for the theater. For now, casts will rehearse at Chef Manigault's.
He said he'll pick a name for the theater when he chooses a site.
“It won't be Chef Manigault's,” he said, laughing.
He's looking for space in the Greenville or Powdersville area. If you know of a site that might be suitable for a dinner theater, contact Manigault by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
He's excited about the upcoming drop-in meetings.
“We're looking for actors, singers, dancers, choreographers, musicians or instrumentalists, and people who might be interested in directing,” Manigault said. “There are those people who love theater but would rather work behind the scenes, and we're looking for those people as well.
“We're looking for local talent,” he continued. “And for us local talent is in the Upstate – if you're in a 50 – 75 mile radius. There are actors willing to travel that far to be in the shows.”
He also welcomes newcomers to the theater experience.
“If you're a newbie and you have the bug for theater, come on out,” Manigault said. “Chances are, I can find what you're going to be good at, whether it's a small role or you could be a diamond in the rough.
“We're also looking for ensemble people, people with an ensemble mindset,” he continued. “People who know how to work with others. We're looking for people who are committed, dedicated and goal-driven.”
Manigault said he would for the theater to eventually enable its cast to make their living from acting.
He hopes to put on 6-8 shows per year at the dinner theater.
“That's the dream,” he said.
“We're looking at about six adult cast shows, and two or three children's shows,” Manigault said.
The theater will feature dinner shows as well as matinee shows “to draw people to the area.”
Manigault has five seasons of shows already planned out.
“We don't plan to be a one-hit wonder,” he said. “We plan to be in it for the long haul.”
The theater will accept submissions of original plays as well.
“I think it's important to encourage creativity,” Manigault said. “We'll look at things. If there's a show where we say, 'That fits the type of theater we're doing,' and we can produce it, we will.”
Manigault said he hopes to build a core company for the theater over time.
The meals served will often pair up with the shows being performed, he said.
“For example, if we're doing Tony and Tina's Wedding, then we would have an Italian meal because the show's about an Italian wedding,” Manigault said. “Generally speaking it will be a plated or buffet type meal. It'll be really quality food. Anything from Chicken Cordon Bleu to Cornish hens.”
He said the shows and meals will be between $30-$40.
There will be only meal-only or show-only ticket options, based on availability, he said.
Discounts and memberships will be offered. Manigault said the theater's web site will be up soon.
“We're looking to have a good time in the Upstate,” he said. “I'm looking forward to that first play being cast.”
Check back with Patch for more information on the dinner theater as it's announced.