Not long ago, the arrival of summer meant the end of indoor shows and activities, and everyone went outdoors for their entertainment. Times have changed, and some of the most appealing shows of the year happen in the summer.
Stage West Community Playhouse, for example, has special shows lined up for all three months: The nonmusical version of The Wizard of Oz weekends June 10-19; the quirky musical The Rocky Horror ShowJuly 7-16; and the youth show Thoroughly Modern Millie Junior weekends Aug. 5-14.
The Show Palace Dinner Theatre does, too: the musical comedy Little Shop of Horrors June 10-July 17; the music-filled Breaking Up Is Hard to Do - The Neil Sedaka Musical July 22-Aug. 21; and the warm comedy/drama Steel Magnolias Aug. 26-Sept. 25.
And one of the area's most intimate venues, the 125-seat Colorama Music center on Denton Avenue in Hudson, has four different acts doing nine shows, today through the end of June, with future months' shows to be announced later.
Owner Leslie Payne has stayed with the formula he set up three years ago when he put a 20-acre complex of office and industrial buildings he owned to a wide variety of uses. He turned one into a recording studio with state of the art equipment that he rents out by the hour to aspiring musicians who want to make their own CDs. Another, he converted into his home. Still another was made into the Denton Avenue Deli, open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays for breakfast and lunch.
And the largest structure was converted into a hybrid supper club, dinner theatre, lounge and gathering place.
It's to this last venue that Payne brings some of the area's best-known performers, as well as newcomers and hopefuls, to put on shows - people like Neil Diamond impersonator Bobby Palermo, crooner Stan Prinston, singers Bob and JoRae Stewart as True Passion, and the pop combo Scarlett Moon.
Tickets go from $7.50 down to free for the shows, with cash bar and dinner at extra cost.
"It's about the music; it isn't profit-driven," Payne said when he first opened his complex. He hasn't changed his mind.
"It's hard to change a winning combination," he said this week. "We like the people who come here," both the entertainers and the patrons.
In the three years Colorama has been open, the place has built a loyal following, with newcomers showing up for nearly every show, Payne said.
Today's show is True Passion, with tickets going for $5 general seating and $7.50 for preferred. Bob and JoRae Stewart sing old and new, slow and fast. Doors open at 6 p.m. for cocktails, dinner at 6:30, with the show at 8 p.m., followed by dancing.
The menu includes appetizers, full dinners from $7.99 to $11.99 (salad, vegetable and choice of beef, pork, chicken or shrimp) and a full bar.
True Passion will do a second show on June 17.
Palermo's dinner shows have a similar schedule and price, with shows on May 27, June 10 and June 24.
The duo Scarlett Moon, who do classic hits and rock, will do their last Colorama show of the season on June 25. Tickets are $5 and $7.50, with a choice of ordering from the menu or serving yourself from a special buffet.
An unusual offering is a free show on June 9, 16 and 23 by crooner Stan Prinston that Payne has dubbed "Afternoon Networking Show." Doors open at 4 p.m., with the show from 5 to 8 p.m. The dinner menu and full bar are available, but Payne is also serving free hors d'oeuvresfor those who simply like to mix and mingle.
Payne also rents out the entertainment venue for private parties and banquets.
Colorama Music is at 9302 Denton Ave. in Hudson. For reservations, call (727) 863-7539.