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Ain't Misbehavin and Dash Point Lobster Shop
by Don and Peg Doman
June and rainy . . . oh, well it was Western Washington in the Southend of Puget Sound. What more could you expect? The day started out gray and overcast. It ended with an explosion of joy.
Peg and I had been to Enchanted April at the Centerstage earlier in the year and found the theater charming and the production outstanding. The configuration is much like the Harlequin in Olympia, but without a built-up stage. At the Centerstage the stage is on the same level and the feet of the first-row audience. That first trip to the Centerstage introduced us to a special offer: dinner at the Dash Point Lobster Shop (South of the theater) or Salty's at Redondo (North of the theater) AND a theatre ticket for $50.00 per person. When we saw in the program that May would bring a production of Ain't Misbehavin to life, we thought that it might make a great "culture vulture" group trip with our friends. Sadly, many deadlines and life got in the way, and so we didn't follow our original plans. On the Thursday of the last week of the run, we proposed to several friends that we attend the Friday evening performance. What a great idea that was.
Unfortunately, our group was small, but as friendly as ever. We ended up with one couple joining us at the Lobster Shop for dinner only and five of us took advantage of the dinner and theater tickets for $50.00. The theater and the restaurants have made the process so easy. When you call to make reservations for dinner, you merely mention that you want dinner and theater tickets. When you pay your bill at the end of the meal, they have your tickets ready for you. What could be simpler?
Dash Point is a speck on the map. It's just up the coast from Northeast Tacoma. From our home in North Tacoma it was a lovely summer evening drive along Ruston Way and Commencement Bay, through the port area and then along the winding road mext to the shoreline and finally climbing up to Brown's Point and then Dash Point. The road down into Dash Point involves a few hairpin turns on a one-way street to get back to sea level. The view is lovely. The small community is crowded with houses.
We dined upstairs in a small private dining room. There was room for one more, but Rob's wife was in San Diego visiting a new grandchild. We ordered drinks and food and began telling stories. Jan told about her time at Dash Point. As a child her father would take her and the kids out fishing from a marina in Tacoma. The would end up at Dash Point and meet up with her mother, Doris for lunch. Doris would bring the meal. Jan revealed that the 26' boat had a small galley and Doris gets sea sick. Jan remembered one time when her mother made the trip by boat. As Jan stood in the stern she saw plates sailing past here out into the water. Doris was ill and didn't want to bother with dishes after the meal.
The Lobster Shop at Dash Point, the original location, is not as classy nor as elegant as the Lobster Shop on Ruston Way in Tacoma, but it was still very busy. The bread was excellent. I had a Prickly Pear mixed drink, which I had tried before. It was refreshing. We settled into laughing and eating.
For the special offer, there is a choice between clam chowder and Ceasar salad. Two of us substituted lobster bisque for the chowder. It is to die for. There are four entrees to choose from. Two had salmon, two had oysters, two had chicken, and one had steak. All were good. For dessert there was a choice of Creme Brulee, Chocolate Mousse, and Olympic Ice Cream. Favorites were Lemon Rocky Road, and the Lime Coconut sorbet. Our reservations were for 5:30 and we finished at 7:30 pm and drove about ten minutes to Centerstage.
The production, which played to a nearly full-house was excellent. There may have been ten empty seats. We arrived later than I would have liked. It's concert seatting with first-come first-choose selections. Luckily, there were a group of seats to the left of the stage area. Peg and I had a front row seat as did Rob.
When you sit in the front row or take an aisle seat near the front, there is always a chance you will be singled out and become part of the cast in some productions. It's best to go with the flow and enjoy it. When you are part of group, this only enhances the experience. LaVon Hardison, who we had seen in Sixty's Chicks last year in Olympia sang Squeeze Me and sat on my lap. I had my arm around Peg and then removed it and put it around LaVon to laughs and hoots. Later Bill Bland sang one of our favorites, Your Feets Too Big and he repeatedly pointed to Rob's feet, which resulted in head-slaps to Rob from both Peg and Donn who was directly behind him.
In the 1920's and 30's, in a time when Manhattan nightclubs like the Savoy Ballroom where the playgrounds of high society, dives were filled with piano players banging out the new beat known as swing. One such musician, a part of the Harlem Renaissance, was Thomas Wright "Fats" Waller. The five performers presented an evening of rowdy, raunchy, and humorous songs that encapsulated the various moods of the era and reflected Waller's view of life as a journey meant for pleasure and play. It was funnnnnnnnnnnnn.
This was probably the best production (we've seen four others) of Ain't Misbehavin that Peg and I had experienced. We will have to visit the Centerstage again with a larger group . . . of course, we'll do the dinner and play offer again.