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Bob Goepfert: Dinner And A Show

Over the years the concept of dinner theater has taken a very bad rap. The prevailing image became one of over-the-hill actors performing in Neil Simon comedies. Combined with the idea that audience members had to wait on tacky buffet lines for salad and chicken - it about destroyed the genre.

Now in its 52nd season, Lake George Dinner Theater in Lake George was always ahead of the curve. They presented comedies, but most had a subtle depth attached to the writing. Too, they use only professional actors who belong to Actors Equity.

As for food, even though they operate at the tasteful Lake George Holiday Inn Resort - a hotel chain as wrongly maligned as dinner theater itself - the food is excellent and brought to the table by an experienced wait staff.

Sweetening the pot, they keep their prices reasonable, cheaper than dinner alone in most resort towns.

And I must say the Broiled Atlantic Salmon I had, and the Medallions of Beef companion selected were delicious. Served with vegetables and roasted potatoes, a nice salad before and cheesecake with coffee for dessert - the food was good enough that we discussed returning one day just to have dinner in the hotel dining room.

As an aside, companion’s whiskey sour (purchased separately) was well made and my glass of Pinot Grigio was a generous pour, with both being fairly priced.

Clearly, Lake George Dinner Theatre has the dinner part of its name down pat. But it still needs work on the theater part of the equation.

Their current production, “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” is an overly silly take-off on the famous Sherlock Holmes’ tale. The hook to the show is that three actors play 14 different parts. Obviously this involves swift changes of character and swifter costume changes. And, though I have criticism of several acting choices, the energy of the performers is impressive. This is two hours of broad, fast-paced action.

A problem with the effort is that the script immediately signals the audience that nothing should be taken seriously. Unfortunately, the director and cast take this suggestion to heart. Few things can ruin a farce faster than actors not investing in a situation, no matter how silly or outrageous it may be. If they don’t believe in the fate of their characters, neither will you.

John Michael Decker plays Dr. Watson as a gun toting boob and Jan-Peter Pedross’ portrayal of Sherlock Holmes is stiff, formal and loud. Director Jarel Davidson shuns any form of subtlety with the pair.

Local actor, Shayne David Cameris plays Sir Henry Baskerville without much shouting and therefore fares better than his fellow actors. Cameris also appears to take more care with his other supporting characters than do the others who rely on bold mannerisms to create an identifiable figure.

The result of this overacting was the actors were performing rather than acting. Few characters inhabited the stage. Rather, this functional set designed by Andrea Nice, was filled with frantic action. This results in several shallow portrayals, with long stretches where little of interest takes place.

However, though I dislike reviewing an audience, for the sake of balance I have to admit there were many who were laughing a lot and apparently thought the show was the best thing since the last Adam Sandler film.

“The Hound of the Baskervilles” runs at the Holiday Inn Resort of Lake George on Canada Street in Lake George through August 31. A new show “Lunch with Mrs. Baskin” opens September 12 and runs through October 19. It’s a sweet romantic comedy about a lonely widow who sets up appointments with sales people just to have company for lunch. When a pair of singles arrive on the same day unexpected romance blossoms.

It could be the pleasant kind of show that goes well with a good meal. For tickets and information for either show, call 518-668-5762 ext. 411, or go to laketheatreproductions.com

Bob Goepfert is theater reviewer for the Troy Record.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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