The stage is lit for the three-act play Park Bench at the Martin Event Space in Martin City. Photo by Jeanne Beechwood

A review of the new Martin City dinner theater by the Martin City Melodrama director

Live theatre had long been absent from that venue and it exciting to see a new show produced in my old stomping grounds  Heck, it was exciting just to see live theatre.

By Jeanne Beechwood
Artistic Director of Martin City Melodrama which debuted at the same location 36 years ago
Full Circle is defined as completing a cycle and returning  to your beginnings. 36 years ago I started a theatre company called the Martin City Melodrama & Vaudeville Co. at 13440 Holmes now known as the Martin City Event Space. For 16 years. MCMVC wrote and performed over 268 original family shows in that venue. We left in 2001 to pursue new theatrical adventures.  I was enthralled to receive an opportunity to attend The Park Bench at The Martin City Event Space and write a story about it. Live theatre had long been absent from that venue and it exciting to see a new show produced in my old stomping grounds  Heck, it was exciting just to see live theatre.
Set in a cabaret setting, (social distancing is maintained in the audience area) , The Park Bench is written and directed by Dennis Eugene Dey.  Mr. Dey is an independent filmmaker and educator. He has written and produced  productions at the KC Fringe Festival. He has worked on this script and its re-writes for over 5 years. The Park Bench connects two strangers on December 31 waiting in Loose Park for tow trucks because their vehicles have broken down. These two strangers develop a human connection as they wait together on this park bench. Nicely portrayed by actors, Christie Courville and Kevin Myers, they encapsulate the characters of these two ordinary strangers. Despite the fact that we never learn the names of these two strangers,  we learn much more. The male is a mathematician and says he is 70 years old. (This writer thought he looked much younger, perhaps 50 something). The female counterpart is 30 something and shares her purpose in life is a mid range physic. These two actors obviously trust each other and have a  nice rapport.
The Park Bench is a minimalist production. It is more  about the importance of human connections than  fancy sets and theatrical lighting  There is a gentle breezy  feeling to the whole production. The audience is invited to eavesdrop into these  strangers’ lives.  Perhaps the message is that you can feel safe when talking to a stranger about your fears, and revealing your dreams, especially if you never learn their true identity. Eventually the tow trucks arrive and these two people who shared a short lived relationship on a park bench in Loose Park on cold December 31,  go their separate ways. Serendipity or a needed human connection? I think we all need human connection, particularly these days.
Special mention to David Brown who had a small walk on part to claim the bench was his to sleep on from midnight to 6am.
Jeanne Beachwood (left) and friend Alice Richardson enjoy Sunday brunch during the performance. Photo by Dennis Dey

Because this is advertised as Dinner Theater, it is important to mention the food. The menu for our brunch performance on Sunday was carefully prepared by Chef Sydney Fish.  You receive your choice of mimosa, bloody Mary or sangria as a complimentary welcome drink. We received fresh fruit at our table along with delicious pastries and breads. We even received take out containers to take home what we couldn’t finish. Our main course was quiche and quite tasty. (I just wished the quiche had been removed from its baking container and laid on the plate with perhaps a touch of parsley. ) Our dessert consisted of a decadent chocolate mousse and truffles plus assorted chocolates. On the way home , home baked cookies were for the taking. Yummy! Tea, coffee, soda and water are included in your ticket price of $32.00 . This ticket price  does not include the ticket fee, tax or tip. The servers were working very hard and were very friendly.

The meal is served over the course of about an hour and then the play is presented in two acts. Performance times remaining are Jan. 19, Jan. 21, Jan. 26 and Jan. 28. You can reserve your tickets by going to visit The Martin City Event Space on Facebook.
So, my full circle had spun. As I left this venue where I began my theatre so long ago, I begged God for a sign . A sign that theatre is important .  After all, theatre offers human connection, even on a park bench. Well, I got my sign and how!  As I started towards the exit door, I overheard a theatregoer talk about all the melodramas and vaudevilles she had seen in this space.  I , of course, came over to say hello.  She recognized and told me she still follows the Martin City Melodrama. I thanked her and explained we had located to our FOREVER home just down Blue Ridge Extension about five minutes away. Thanks God for the sign and theatregoers!
Kudos to The Park Bench team at the Martin City Event Space. Kudos to any theatre or artist who is still striving to create whether it is live or virtual. The show must go on, or online. For those of us who can make art, we do it to to get through the good and bad times. We try and inspire and make a human connection. Thanks for those  who want and appreciate that philosophy.  Now, go connect!
Jeanne Beechwood is the Artistic Director at The Martin City Melodrama & Vaudeville Co. now located at 702 Blue Ridge Extension, Grandview, Missouri. Ms. Beechwood celebrates her 36th season, her actors with special needs and her rescue dogs who have gained notoriety as pawformers. She can be reached at

1 thought on “A review of the new Martin City dinner theater by the Martin City Melodrama director

  1. Martin City Telegraph has been a wonderful companion in our effort to bring dinner theater to this great community. We are so thankful! To be a part of the community is a grand experience, indeed. To be recognized by MARTIN CITY TELEGRAPH is AWESOME!
    Dennis Eugene Dey

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