KISSIMMEE – When Congress got around to doing away with the Prohibition movement and the ban on alcohol sales, some things went out the window along with it, including bootlegging or rum-running.
But something else became obsolete: so-called Speakeasys. Who needs a secret nightclub where you can sneak in and get served booze when you could suddenly buy it anywhere you liked?
Recreating that bygone era is the schtick behind one of Central Florida’s popular dinner theaters, Al Capone’s Dinner & Show. If most of the dinner theaters in Central Florida aim is to let folks enjoy a good performance while having a relaxing dinner right there on the premises, Capone’s is a bit different.
Several of the other dinner theaters want to tell a story of some kind, either through comedy, music or mystery — or a combination of all three.
Capone’s, located on U.S. 192 in Kissimmee, really strives to give you the feel of being in a genuine speakeasy, and to put on a show that recreates a lost art form known as burlesque.
Does it work? In some instances, yes. In others, not so much.
Sometimes called a “blind pig,” a speakeasy was typically an urban nightclub that illegally sold alcoholic beverages during the Prohibition era, mainly in the 1920s. Often operated by organized crime units, that aspect of the speakeasy history becomes a key part of the Capone’s gimmick.
You get seated at one of several long tables that can accommodate multiple parties. There’s a bar next to the gift shop and a buffet at the other end of the room, with the main stage in the background.
If booze played a big role in making speakeasys popular and successful in the 1920s, it’s just as crucial an element for Capone’s success as well. You’re seated and served by waiters who dress like mobsters, and have tough guy attitude to spare, tossing off lines like “All right, I gottcha,” and “You done with that plate — cause I’m hungry!” If it sounds corny, by the second drink you’re likely to find them charming and endlessly entertaining.
And until the buffet line opens, believe me, those drinks flow very freely. Your mobster/waiter is constantly rushing over with another pitcher of booze.
Even though the buffet provides a wide selection that includes pizza, pasta, chicken and a salad bar, it’s the alcohol really helps make it all such fun. And if you’re with a group of friends, chances are you’ll like it even more.
And the show itself? Well ….
Performance start at 8 p.m. Speakeasys offered burlesque show featuring pretty dames who dance and sing, some naughty comedy, and plenty of sexual innuendo. Taken from the Italian word burlesco — which means to joke, ridicule or mock – burlesque was a popular form of variety show or cabaret performed in urban American clubs right through the 1940s.
At the Capone’s show, the singing and dancing is good, but there’s no real plot to follow, except for the dim-witted police officer who raids the joint and wants to haul everyone — audience included — off to jail for drinking alcohol during Prohibition.
But the comedy isn’t great, and can’t decide if it wants to be cute and family-oriented in keeping with Orlando’s tourist image, or a bit salacious. But one too many poop gags can turn any show stale rather quickly.
What was more fun was when the performers moved off stage and interacted with the audience — sometimes with hilarious results.
In fact, that’s really what makes Capone’s a fun experience, particularly if you’ve got a group of friends or co-workers you’re going with. Those strong drinks and wise-cracking waiters are virtually certain to put you in a delighted mood before long.
To learn more about Capone’s, call 1-800-220-8428.
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