story by Brittany Shepard | photography by Q Shots Photography
Since 2010, Southern Broadway has been delighting Wiregrass area residents with top notch theatrical productions and experience that seems like it would be found in New York instead of Enterprise, Alabama. After performing their first play in 2008 as a fundraiser, Lydia Dillingham and Susan Gilmore decided to officially go into business as Southern Broadway in 2010.
“We started slow in a really cool building downtown with dinner theater,” said Lydia. “It was successful and a lot of fun, but the building was not quite big enough.”
In 2015, Southern Broadway purchased a late 1800s-era historic building in downtown Enterprise and refurbished it to become its new home and a unique event venue for the area.
Southern Broadway produces about five plays every year that each have a four or five week run with performances Thursday through Saturday evenings. Lydia writes and directs each play while Susan serves as the dinner theater’s chef making all the meals on-site in their commercial kitchen. Susan also designs and builds the sets for each production.
“We are a small company run by a couple of women and a lot of volunteers,” said Lydia.
The formula is simple: good food and a professional-level theatrical experience. Doors open at 6:00 each night with a three-course dinner served at 6:30. After dinner there is a short break, and then the show begins. The show lasts about an hour and a half.
“We try to give our patrons the whole package with an elevated dining experience themed to the show and a show that is above average,” said Lydia.
The whole evening including the delicious dinner and theatrical production costs guests only $36.65 per person. Meals are served family-style at each table which seats eight guests. The venue can accommodate 80 guests for each show.
Actors for each production consist of local volunteers from the Wiregrass area and Fort Rucker that must audition for each of their roles. The production is rehearsed for several weeks leading up to the run, and an army of volunteers collaborates to create a wonderful experience for patrons.
“It’s a labor of love,” said Lydia. “The community loves it, and we do, too! The actors are all wonderful people that we have developed amazing friendships as they continue to audition and participate in the dinner theater.”
Southern Broadway’s next show is an interesting legal drama with exciting twists and turns called “Juror Number 7” written by Lydia. Lydia, a local lawyer, pulls from her experience practicing law to write the intricate script. The scene is set in a southern court room in the mid 1990’s during a civil trial that becomes a little bit more complicated than things initially appear.
“Juror Number 7” will run Thursday through Saturday evenings September 28 through October 21. There is an excellent cast of 16 actors that will keep patrons on the edge of their seats. There is some music in the show, but it is not a musical.
“The twists and turns in the show will allow patrons of the theater production to figure out the mystery as they watch,” said Lydia.
Susan’s menu for “Juror Number 7” is available to view online at Southern Broadway’s website, and the three-course meal for will certainly not disappoint: spinach salad with hot bacon dressing, delicious white and wheat bread loaves, smoked rib tips served with sweet and heat house-made BBQ sauces, backcountry dirty rice, green beans, savory carrots and, for dessert, hot fudge skillet brownies ala mode.
Tickets are available for purchase now online and by phone and are not available for purchase at the doors, so patrons will need to go ahead and make reservations in advance. Southern Broadway shows almost always sell out. Patrons are able to pick their seats and pay for the reservations online at www.southernbroadway.com, or they may call the box office at (334) 470-6568.
In addition to “Juror Number 7,” Southern Broadway will round out its 2017 season with a holiday production entitled “The Christmas Gift” that will run from November 20 through December 23. The Christmas show and dinner theater would be a wonderful experience for families that may even become a new tradition for each year.
To find out more information about upcoming shows, how to rent the event venue or even audition for the next production, visit www.southernbroadway.com.
Juror #7 – Play Synopsis:
A riveting trial erupts in suspenseful mystery when a civil case turns into something far different than anyone imagined. Come watch Judge Roy Brantley preside over a case in the mid 1990’s in a small southern town as witnesses are questioned and reputations are tarnished. You’ll be on the edge of your seat wanting to know how this “Perry Mason” style story pans out.
Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing, served with loaves of fresh-baked wheat and white breads
Smoked Rib Tips served with Sweet & Heat House-made BBQ Sauces, Back-Country Dirty Rice, Green Beans, and Savory Carrots
Hot Fudge Skillet Brownie ala Mode (Vanilla Ice Cream)