The Tidewater Dinner Theatre

The backstage entrance to the Tidewater Dinner Theatre. (Photo by Clay West, 5.28.12)


I don’t know what happened to May… It flew, I flew, it just went… And here, on the eve of the first day of June, here is a picture taken recently by my friend Clay West. It’s of the backstage door to a magnificent stage space in Norfolk, Virginia, close to the Virginia Beach line: the Tidewater Dinner Theatre.

This building hasn’t been used as a theatre in quite some time. I don’t have any details, and don’t know why someone out there hasn’t grabbed it. Well, besides the money issue. But surely someone out there has the funds and has the dream of bringing fantastic theatre back to life in the form of dinner theatre. Dinner theatre isn’t as popular as it once was. I’m not sure why that’s so either. But I do believe in resurrections. Everything comes back around.

All I know is that I used to perform here. It’s a grand space… So many memories… It was like home… Theatre people are like family… Even years later, I still think of everyone I did shows with fondly and with great respect and admiration, with love.

If you’re the one to help this theatre stay alive, you’d better hurry. The demolition crew is set to break it to pieces and put up another section of the Quality Suites Hotel, where it sits next to, on Northampton Boulevard, right next to I-64 ramps. It’s a great location. I have no details on why the owner wants to tear it down. Sure it needs work, since it hasn’t been in operation for a while. It would definitely be an act of love. Like restoring an old house to its former glory. Something for visionaries. I have the vision — and so do so many of us, mostly veterans of that playhouse, but we don’t have the money to invest.

I think it’s sad that yet another building of cultural importance — one with history — is on the doomed list… Why does that always happen? Couldn’t the city take it over and blend it with the Parks and Recreation program somehow? Isn’t there a company that would like a good home? Or how about an entrepreneur who’d like a worthy challenge?

If you’re interested or know of someone who is — or if you can spread the word through the media — I hope you consider this theatre before it’s too late. And “too late” could be any day now. This building includes a huge kitchen and main dining room, along with two smaller dining rooms for private parties. Along with a box office, there are a couple of other offices. The large theatre is separate from the dining room and has a costume loft, light booth, orchestra pit, dressing rooms, and large shop area backstage.

That backstage door… So many memories of hanging out there before the show and during intermission. I can still see my fellow cast mates… Kellie, Michael, Suzanne, Shelton, Jeannelle, Brad, RuBen, Rob, Mark, Kay… The list is endless… I can still see us the way we were then… And I can see the theatre the way it should be now…

Anybody else? We all hope so…

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