Hours: Doors open at 6 p.m., dinner is served at 7 and the show starts at 8:30. Times one hour earlier on Sunday. No matinees.
Atmosphere: Countryish, friendly but crowded.
Prices: Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday, $15.95; Fridays, $17.95; Saturday, $18.95; children 10 and under, $10 any night. Group rates available. Drinks $1.75 and up; wine $4.95 to $12.50.
Reservations: Required (the earlier you book, the better your table.)
Credit cards: American Express, Carte Blanche, Mastercard and Visa.
Special facilities: Ample parking; wheelchair access; highchairs. Smoking not allowed during show.
Shows: "Carousel" will run at least through Dec. 31, after which "No, No, Nanette" is scheduled.
You don't go to dinner theater (at least not the Lazy Susan) for the food, but if you don't mind eating all you can of fairly routine buffet food, it's a pretty good deal. And it's especially appealing to children, to whom cafeteria-style anything is always attractive.
Dinner guests pass along either side of two buffet tables, choosing from a major lineup of salads: tossed, macaroni, carrot-and-raisin, fresh fruit, fruit in whipped cream, gelatin in two renditions, potato, jardiniere, peas and carrots, and tuna. Next comes picalilli, applesauce and bananas in coconut; then herring, crab apples, quiche, broccoli, rice, sauerkraut and dumplings, fish Newburg, beef pot pie, chicken cacciatore and roast beef.
On our second visit, the desserts, served at a separate table, were hard to identify -- including a German chocolate cake that resembled a pudding. We and everyone around us considered them the low point of the meal.
In short, food is not what this dinner theater is all about.
But although the food on our second visit seemed blander than it had on our first, we remain enthusiastic about the concept of dinner theater for families with children, for several reasons.
First, it's convenient: you drive in, park, eat, see a show (sipping your drink as you watch) and leave. It's a five-hour operation, which for our family of two adults and two children cost $73, tip included.
Second, where you sit depends on how early you make your reservation, not on how much you pay. We sat in front this time because we had booked early. Granted, the tables are crowded, so it's not as comfortable as staying home and watching television.
Third, and perhaps most fun for the little ones, the actors at many of the dinner theaters, including Lazy Susan, are also the waiters -- a source of pleasure to star-struck children. Our daughters jump from their seats as soon as intermission begins and make the rounds, collecting autographs, asking questions and passing out compliments.
Finally, dinner theaters aren't experimental. They show mainly oldies but goodies, with heavy emphasis on musicals (although background music is taped at Lazy Susan). Although I hadn't seen "Carousel" since I was a teen-ager, I remembered many of the show tunes with nostalgia, so I was eager to share the show with my family.
And the kids enjoyed it as they always do, eagerly asking, after the show, which actors we thought did a good job (this time, the villain) and which ones stunk (there are always stinkers).
"Carousel" seems dated now, the idea of a no-goodnik getting his second chance as an angel a little more difficult to accept than it was the first time I saw it, but the girls enjoyed it as much as I had, probably for the same reasons, and had a better view than I did, too.
There are better dinner theaters, and there are certainly worse ones. The food is filling more than anything else, but from our kids' point of view, our evening was a success -- and I gained a little perspective on my memories.