Local Canberran. Reluctant member of the Smashed Avo set. Lover of the classics.
Published May 9th 2015
I've seen dinner and show packages advertised for years but there was something about them that made me conjure up of murky old restaurants, dark and dusty, where the has-beens and never-wases cut their teeth on equally dreary plays while the few watching on plough through casks of wine.
I've never been more wrong. I attended Dramatic Productions' The Last Five Years at Teatro Vivaldi last week and cannot stop raving about the show and the venue. I now sorely regret my misconceived idea of dinner theatre and rue the amazing shows I must have missed because of it.
My night was amazing. The food was great. Four options were available for each of the entrée, main and dessert so even your paleo, gluten-free friends will be satisfied. And Teatro Vivaldi, a hidden gem in the heart of the Australian National University, brought the food and drink out with precision. The staff there clearly has their own production down pat.
As for the show? Incredible. The Last Five Years was an off-Broadway hit 10 years ago and follows the relationship of up and coming writer Jamie and struggling actress Cathy. The twist? He tells his story from their first meeting, she tells the story in reverse. When he's describing meeting the girl of his dreams, we find Cathy holding the wedding band he's left on the nightstand. In fact the two are only seen in the same time period once when he's on one knee popping the question. Then the curtains close on Act 1, the lights come on, dessert appears magically on your plate and you're turning to the table next to you to ask whether they're Team Jamie or Team Cathy.
The songs were great, there were a few laughs and it really did get me talking. I remain in the Team Cathy camp but I tell you what, part of me thinks any bloke would have his work cut out for him putting up with her. What's ultimately the most impressive is the cast. It's just the two of them, all night. And they don't have a lot to work with: it's a tiny stage, no set changes and 60 people watching on from just metres away. There's absolutely nothing to hide behind and the two I saw really did hold their own. I understand a Hollywood version starring Anna Kendrick (of Pitch Perfect fame) will hit cinemas shortly though release dates are unclear.
More importantly though, I urge you to check out the rest of the shows scheduled to play at Teatro Vivaldi this year. There's dinner followed by a walk next door to the ANU main theatre for The King and I. Or an 18-piece jazz band in concert. I'm sounding old now but I'm even excited about Rhonda Burchmore performing at a dinner and cabaret. All of these and more are happening over the next few months so be sure to check out Vivaldi's webpage and get tickets.
I don't need to do that. I bought the season pass last week.