Going into 40th year of dinner-theatre operations, thousands attend “White Christmas” show
BY GEORGE J. DACRE
It all started in July of 1974 when New York City ad-men Bill Stutler and Bob Funking decided at a lunch they wanted to get a theatre and put on shows. Stutler, born in Huntington, West Virginia, had seen shows at a dinner theatre there and he and Funking agreed that Westchester County would be an ideal location.
With the aid of an architect, they picked out the Westchester Executive Park as the place to do it, overcoming some objections by the local planning board. The pair raised enough cash and built the first Westchester Broadway Theatre in a building at the park. Then in 1991, a larger Westchester Broadway Theatre was set up at its current location in Elmsford.
Now 40 years later, after overcoming some rough times from 2008 through 2012, Stutler says business got better in 2013 and Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” is packing them in and great shows including the London version of “Titanic” are expected to make 2014 a banner year for WBT. “Titanic” will be followed by “Ragtime,” a show about the Roaring 20s, “Mary Poppins,” “The Wizard Of Oz,” based on the movie, and the most requested show among WBT fans, “South Pacific.”
“Creation of the illusion of the ship ‘Titanic’ will be a challenge that will be met,” said Stutler in an interview with the Rockland County Times. He added, “Things will be flying with ‘Mary Poppins’ and the ‘Wizard Of Oz.'”
The 450-seat theatre is planning a gala New Years Eve celebration with the show “White Christmas,” dinner with lavish hot and cold Hors D’oeuvres, open bar for the entire evening and dancing on stage with a live band the Tuxedo Parc Orchestra. The dinners are all planned by WBT’s new chef Alex Santaio, who started out as a waitress at WBT, ran her own restaurant in Valhalla, and then returned to WBT.
And for December of this year and 2014 you can catch many Monday and Tuesday special shows, including “The Piano Men,” Hector Lavoe, an Irish Family Christmas with the Willoughby Brothers, TheThree Tenors, Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, Comedy Nights, Beatlemania, Simply Diamond Valentines Day, the Belmonts, Franki Valli and the Four Seasons tribute, the Glen Miller Orchestra and many more. For tickets and information www.broadwaytheatre.com or 914-592-2222.