By Larry Hightower
Dennis Dey wrote and directed the play, “Park Bench,” which was first performed in 2015 at the Just Off Broadway Theatre in Kansas City. When he was approached by a colleague, David Brown, about producing a dinner theatre at The Martin Event Center he realized that “Park Bench,” with a small cast and a minimal set, was ideal to adapt to a dinner theatre format.
“Park Bench” is a two act play that explores a chance meeting of two strangers. Christie Noel Courville plays a vivacious 30-something lady, while Kevan Myers plays a spritely older gentleman. Their cars have broken down at the same time and place in Loose Park. Through serendipity they discover they have far more in common than automotive problems.
Dey’s theatre background goes back to his Bachelor of Arts degree in drama at Fort Hays State University and Master of Arts degree in business from Emporia State University. He has produced and directed 25 films ranging from short films to feature-length movies. The majority of these films were accepted as competitors in film festivals ranging from local to national to international.
Christie Noel Courville brings talent and effervescence to her role. She has a long list of theatre credits, but leans toward cinema, having appeared in 26 films. Courville worked with Dey in two short films: “Kind Wind” and “Happy Birthday, Ron.” The latter explores the devastation of those left behind after a loved one’s suicide.
Kevan Myers brings a subtle approach to the acting craft, which can catch the audience off guard when he delivers punchlines with surprising impact. He has an extensive theatre resume which includes his notable performance in the lead role in “Inherit The Wind.” Of “Park Bench,” he says, “Good theatre involves human stories of people connecting through awkward circumstances.”
Co-producer, David Brown, who also appears in the production, says “I was ready for a laugh, to immerse myself in a script and work with talented friends. We all needed this escape.”
In preparation for the performance, the cast have been rehearsing remotely. However, there are definite challenges to socially remote Zoom rehearsals. “Comedic timing is critical to pulling off quick lines and witticisms,” says Dey. “The inherent time delays of online rehearsals caused initial concerns, but the talent and professionalism of Christie, Kevan and David coalesced to realize the script’s comic intent with great effect.” Courville adds, “Everyone worked together to overcome the dropped calls and time delays.”
The performances will be paired with fine food provided by Sidney Fish, a noted local chef and owner/operator of the Beauty of the Bistro food truck.
“Park Bench” will premiere with a brunch performance at The Martin Event Space at 13440 Holmes on January 17th at 11 am. The brunch menu consists of welcome drinks such as sangria, mimosas or bloody Mary; mixed fruit or yogurt parfait with pastires for Act I; bacon, spinach and Swiss cheese quiche or broccoli, mushroom, cheddar quiche at Act II; and assorted truffles and chocolate at Act III.
Dinner Theatre performances will follow on January 19th, 21st, 26th and 28th at 7 pm. Dinner promises a culinary delight of spring mix salad for Act I; fresh baked bread with roasted turkey at Act II, and a choice of Rocky Road Brownie or Carrot Cake at Act III..
A special “Drinks and Date” performance will be held on January 23rd at 8 pm. It will include sangria or Martin City Brewery beer and assorted nuts, artisan cheese and French bread at Act I; peanut butter mousse, lemon berry cheesecake and carrot cake shooters at Act II; and dessert wine at Act III.
“Park Bench,” is billed as an evening (in one case, Sunday morning) that pairs a delightfully unique, light-hearted comedy with a mouth-watering dining experience. The Martin Event Space comfortably seats two hundred. To allow social distancing, ticket sales for each performance will be limited to 50. Tickets are available at exploretock.com/themartineventspace.