Yes, there is theater, with optional dinner, available in Mt. Vernon, with free parking, and even an elevator for those who appreciate a lift, or are disabled.
RiverBelle is the creation of Wendy Bell, a third generation theater person, formerly of Buena Park California, and Knotts Berry Farm.
Her grandfather, Harry Harvel, who once worked with Houdini, was a contortionist. Grandmother had a soft-shoe act.
Both of her parents were in vaudeville, mother a puppeteer who worked in studio films, father a sculpture and portrait artist at studios in the forties and fifties.
With the entire family involved in theater, Wendy, after being born in a trunk backstage, started young in feature films, television, commercials, and musical theater, playing at about every such venue in southern Calif.
When she had teenagers of her own, things were deteriorating in southern California. She longed for a better life for her children, just as she had had.
Sixteen years ago she bought a book about the best small towns in America, and they arrived in Mt. Vernon looking like the Beverly Hillbillies, not knowing anyone in the area. Wendy, two twin boys and two more sons, for a total of four sons and one single parent. They knew no one.
Wendy got a job at the old Majestic Hotel, and met James Lindsay, who encouraged her to become involved in community theater. She landed the role of the wicked stepmother in Cinderella, acted, then directed.
When Wendy’s parents passed on, she received a small inheritance, with which she bought a small home in Mt. Vernon.
Observing that there were no dinner theaters in the area she took a chance and followed her bliss, creating an intimate dinner theater from a cement floored second storey space in the Old Grainery building.
Theatergoers are escorted to their assigned table by a staff member, who advises that coffee or de-caf, tea varieties or iced tea and water are complimentary and self-service.
Nice varieties of wine are available for $6 a glass, canned soda pop for a dollar.
Doors open at seven, dinner is served as soon as patrons are seated, curtain at 7:30
The most recent production: “No Sex Please, We’re British” presented an opportunity for their to-date, most inexperienced cast, balanced by veteran Camwood Players. George Carter directed the production, with sets and decoration by cast members John Stedman, Christie Harrell, Zach Vanwinkle and Randy Randall.
Zach got the role of Peter Hunter, when he showed up with his mother, Eleanor Vanwinkle, and a young leading man was needed. The handsome youth who looks good in his immaculately pressed tweed jacket, never acted before.
Theatrical veteran Steve Barbour played Brian Runnicles with zest.
Heather Mahaffie played Zach’s hapless wife,
Seth Fine played Leslie Bromhead, Kerry Vanwinkles gallant, romantic gentleman friend and bank manager.
George Carter stole Act Two as the hapless Mr. Needham, along with Christie Harrell (of Camano Island) and Beth Greatorex, as colorful, determined call girls.
When George was accidentally injured onstage during a performance on the night of the July 7th production, he got his severely gashed and bleeding leg bandaged, and the show went on, the audience none-the-wiser. Yes, he’s a real and versatile trooper!
Coming up this season will be:
July 27- Sept 1: MAKE EM LAUGH (formerly Double Trouble) an original comedy, part musical, part circus, part vaudeville, part Twisted Flicks, all in one night of entertainment. The show was written by Mike Wallace of Bellingham.
Sept.14 – Oct 20: Alfred Hitchcock’s THE 39 STEPS. An amazingly brilliant cast of 4 will play over 140 characters….(a live theatre trick in itself).
Nov. 2 – Dec 22 – MURDER AT CLUB BABALU, an“I love Lucy” murder mystery parody “Murder so funny” with full faux cast.
Theatre including coffee, de-caf, tea varieties and iced tea: $30
Dinner theater: $40, includes all of the above, and an entrée with roll and butter.
Photo below, caption:
In Act I, Camano Island’s Tom Perry, playing Supt. Paul, kisses the hand of Eleanor Hunter, while Seth Fine looks on with startled displeasure.