The Fireside Debuts New Religious Musical DAVID
The Fireside Dinner Theatre in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin has gained a reputation for excellence in family hospitality, customer service, fine dining and professional theatre over its 47 year history. Most notably, they have been recognized as Wisconsin’s #1 Year-round Motorcoach Attraction, America’s Best Restaurant Family, one of the Top 100 Events in North America, and Favorite Theatre in Leisure Group Travel’s 2010 Reader’s Choice Awards.
While The Fireside has always made a point of presenting family friendly entertainment, they began offering a Christian Concert Series featuring Southern Gospel music groups in the late 1980’s in addition to their season of Broadway musicals. Since then nearly 100 groups have performed at The Fireside as part of this program. Their annual original Christmas revue which includes a presentation of The Nativity has entertained over one million guests since 1993.
In 2008 The Fireside was proud to introduce their audience to the creative team of Gary Richardson and Danny Hamilton with their production of the original work THE ROCK & THE RABBI, based on the life and friendship of Simon Peter and Jesus. Talented performers dressed in dramatic black surround several musicians who wow you with the marvelous sounds of acoustic guitars and percussion instruments led by Hamilton while Richardson the master storyteller spins the tale. They followed it up in 2009 with THE WITNESSES and in 2010 with their premier of THE CHILD as part of the annual Christmas show.
The Fireside’s 2011 season will include the newest musical by this creative duo, based on the life of King David. THE NEW MUSICAL DAVID runs July 7 – August 21, 2011 with seven shows weekly on a Wednesday through Sunday schedule. The show tells the story of the young man David — how he grows from shepherd to singer to warrior to King of Israel. One of history’s most engaging characters, David lived a life filled with danger, romance, music, laughter and faith. It is said that David was “a man after God’s own heart.” The show traces this young man’s life from his epic battle with the giant Goliath all the way to his coronation as King. Presented with their trademark combination of storytelling and live, acoustic music, DAVID is a feast for the eyes and ears. You’ll enjoy some of the nation’s finest talent onstage in this thrilling original musical. The soundtrack includes the hit songs, “The Bigger They Are,” “It Takes A Woman!” and “With All Of My Heart.” DAVID is a fast-paced, funny, and exciting must-see musical for the whole family.
Danny Hamilton: DAVID Lyricist, Musician
The rest of the 2011 season features SWING ON A STAR, an original 1940’s Big Band Revue through February 27th, ANNIE from March 3 – May 1, A CLOSER WALK WITH PATSY CLINE from May 5 – June 26, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS from August 25 – October 23, and A FIRESIDE CHRISTMAS from October 27 – December 22.
Group benefits are available for small non-traditional groups of 13 to 17 people with special group rates for 18 or more. Youth packages are offered for ages 14 and under with a child-friendly menu. A variety of menus are featured throughout the week including The Fireside’s Signature Buffet on Thursday evenings and an elaborate Brunch Buffet for the Sunday Matinee. The Group Sales staff can assist group leaders with planning and promotional ideas as well.
Scene from THE NEW MUSICAL DAVID
The Fireside Dinner Theatre is truly a unique attraction. Dick and Betty Klopcic’s dream was to build an intimate restaurant where people would truly feel welcome and where they would want to return. So in 1964, they began by building a small, unique restaurant, concentrating on offering only the finest foods and the finest service. The original structure was just 60’ X 60’ with a pyramid roof, a small bar area which is still the main bar, and seating above it for 120 diners.
Through God’s many blessings, gracious guests from throughout the Midwest, and a dedicated staff, the family saw the need to expand the dining facility several times over the years. In 1978, an art gallery adjoining the restaurant was annexed and remodeled into a 435 seat theatre-in-the-round, opening as a professional theatre in the Spring of 1978 with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s SOUTH PACIFIC, directed by New York native Ed Flesch whom the Klopcics had found working in Madison. The stage was set for The Fireside as we know it today, becoming a favorite destination for so many guests seeking a special and memorable experience of dining and theatre at its finest.
Gary Richardson: DAVID Writer, Storyteller
Today the facility houses a 652 seat theatre, four elaborate gift shoppes, a bakery, and lounge along with dining accommodations for up to 1,000 guests. Dick and Betty’s oldest son, Rick, is President of The Fireside and was responsible for the 1993 expansion which added a music gift shop, a seasonal garden shop, new main floor box office with increased service capacity, new and larger coat checks, redecorated dining rooms, expanded theatre seating, and several handicapped accessible rest rooms, along with storage and workspace facilities to support the expanded facility. Rick’s wife Jane is in charge of all gift shop operations including both design and merchandise selection. Rick and Jane’s son, Ryan and his wife, Kristi joined The Fireside management team in 2009, taking the family business to the third generation. Ryan has experience in resort management and Kristi in Human Resources.
Executive Chef David Wolfram, who was put in charge of the kitchen when The Fireside opened, remained the head of all food operations until his retirement in 2009. The Fireside has always served the finest foods using only the freshest ingredients. While new menus are designed for each production, The Fireside’s reputation for excellence stays the same. David has been succeeded by Michael Scott, a 17 year veteran of The Fireside kitchens with training from the acclaimed Culinary Institute of America.
The first director, Ed Flesch, still produces each show and directs most of them himself. He casts nearly all roles from his New York auditions bringing to Wisconsin some of the finest Broadway and Regional performers in the country. Professional costume designers, set and lighting designers, musical directors and choreographers vie for the opportunity to work at The Fireside. The biggest single myth that The Fireside would like to dispel is that being located in a small town must mean it is a community theatre when in fact it is one of the finest regional theatres in the United States today.
The 35 foot sculpture at the building’s entry is The Fireside’s “Flame of Friendship” which is symbolically extended to each and every guest. Designed by Fort Atkinson artist Bob Hase, the 70 varied but related forms of steel represent the interdependence and friendship among all people. The Fireside’s many friends include guests from across the country and across the street. Each one is special and leaves The Fireside with a beautiful memory to cherish forever.
For more information: 800-477-9505 or www.firesidetheatre.com