Now in its second year, Ovation Dinner Theatre, based in the Bethany Beach/Ocean View area, is continuing to offer a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience throughout Delmarva.
“It was launched with the idea of bringing culture particularly to Sussex County, although, with its popularity, it’s extended into Kent County, New Castle County and other surrounding areas,” said Lenne Sirasky, who founded Ovation Dinner Theatre with his partner, Carreen Kouts.
“Being a transplant from the Baltimore/D.C. area with an extensive acting background, I saw the need for some culture — specifically live theater, and more specifically live dinner theater. I saw a void in Sussex County.”
Sirasky said the void he saw was confirmed after they did surveys and asked people in the community.
“They showed the area was in need of more live entertainment,” he explained. “Taking that lead, we ran with it, and my partner Carreen Kouts, she and I came up with a platform of creating a mobile dinner theater company. We take our show on the road — literally…
“It was received with tremendous, tremendous response. This has been a long-awaited source of entertainment.”
The traveling theater troupe offers various comedic murder-mystery performances at restaurants throughout Sussex County and beyond.
“The venues where we perform are all offering a very, very fine three-course dining experience. That really sets us apart also, because it’s not just a theatrical entertainment platform, but also a very fine dinner.”
Audience members are entertained by a cast of five or six professional actors, out of a company of 30 actors.
“More importantly, it’s the audience members that are involved that make the performance,” added Sirasky, “the laughter, the camaraderie. Generally, the venues offer communal seating — tables of six, eight, 10. That creates a very friendly, high-energy type of environment, when they’re actually involved in this murder mystery. That’s what sets it apart from any other type of theatrical presentation… You, the audience member, are now a part of this production.”
Sirasky said productions last approximately two and a half hours and allow for up to 15 audience members to participate in each performance, adding a fun element that other area theater performances do not have.
“The audience turnout has been excellent. Many of our shows are sold-out. Even the reluctance of patrons when they realize what they’re getting into is diminished when they realize it’s a fun show. They feel the energy in the room, and they’re willing to participate and take a role in the show.
With Ovation, the audience members are given a small script and are literally acting right along with the professional cast. It’s fresh, unique. There’s nothing else like it in the entertainment realm — especially with the audience interaction.
“It’s not your typical situation … where you’re walking in and sitting for two and a half hours and watching a wonderful production. We take it to the next level, with involving our audience members in the production. So the energy is just elevated.
Upcoming shows in Sussex County are Friday, Oct. 9, at the Salted Rim in Ocean View, with a performance of “’Til Death Do Us Part”; Friday, Oct. 23, at Bethany Beach Ocean Suites, with a performance of the Halloween comedy “Monster Mash Murders”; Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Salted Rim, with a performance of “Monster Mash Murders”; Tuesday, Oct. 27, at Bear Trap Dunes, with a performance of “Monster Mash Murders”; and Monday, Dec. 7, at the Penguin Diner in Bethany Beach, with a performance of “Dial ‘S’ For Santa.”
Ovation has also performed at the Georgetown CHEER Center, Indian River Senior Center and the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center. There is also an upcoming performance on Saturday, Oct. 31, at Pizzadili Vineyard & Winery.
Sirasky said Ovation continues to be supported by the community, and he hopes that those who have never experienced a show will give it a try.
“We actually have a following that will venture from one venue to another to see the different types of shows we offer,” he said. “It’s more evidenced by sold-out shows. Wherever we perform, all of our shows are sold out.” (A second Oct. 24 performance, at the Brick Hotel in Georgetown, is already sold out.)
“The demand has been wonderful. We supply it and they’ve demanded, and it’s been a perfect fit.”
Those who are interested in learning more about Ovation Dinner Theatre may visit www.ovationdinnertheatre.com or www.facebook.com/ovationdinnertheatre, or call (302) 500-1528. Reservations are required for all shows and may be made by calling the host venue/restaurant.