Rocca serves up dishes, entertainment

The Robert E. Lee Hotel’s restaurant brings dinner and a show to Lexington


Asha Campbell

Rocca, Robert E. Lee Hotel’s Italian restaurant, brought a new type of entertainment to the Lexington community with its live dinner theater production of “The Drowsy Chaperone” Jan. 24 and 25.

“This funny show lends itself well to the space and is perfect for dinner theater,”  Kelly Tolley, the show’s stage manager said. “We are so excited for the opportunity to bring The Drowsy Chaperone to Lexington through Rocca Dinner Theater.”

Having been a theater major in college, Rocca employee Richard Templeman was approached to set up some type of dinner entertainment. Templeman said he wanted to bring something different to the table so the idea for The Drowsy Chaperone came to mind.

The restaurant decided to use this first show as a tester to gauge the amount of interest in these types of events. If it receive positive feedback, restaurant management said its goal is to expand performances to include students from W&L students and the local acting troupe.

Dinner Theatre 13-2

“This show has been great because it has given me a chance to get out of the W&L bubble,” said Ulemj Enkbold ’17. “I didn’t really know much about Lexington, and I wanted to get out and explore the city I live in.”

First-year student Danielle Hughson said she wanted to participate in the show because it allows her to have theater exposure without necessarily studying it in school.

“We work with members of the community, which makes it very interactive,” Hughson said. “It gives us a chance to do professional theater programs without being theater majors.”

Tolley said her experience working on the show from the beginning has been very rewarding.

“From working with Ben Frey to design the amazing sets to organizing the talented cast, and even the stressful late night rehearsals, this show is all worthwhile when we get to show the fruits of our labor to the audience and see the reactions to the finished product,” she said.

“The Drowsy Chaperone” is a parody of a musical from the 1920s. It debuted on Broadway in 2006 and won 5 Tony awards.

The show takes place in an elderly Broadway enthusiast’s home and shifts from present day to the 1920s as he listens to a musical comedy recording. The characters come to life in his living room and he provides commentary throughout the show.

“I love the show because it’s so unique,” Scott Michelson, who played the role of man in the chair, said. “It tells modern audiences what entertainment was like in the 1920s.”

“I think it’s a great idea to bring more events to downtown,” said Lexington resident Nan Wolf. “I wanted to support the actors as well as the restaurant, while still getting to enjoy a night out with some friends.”

Rocca has two more shows scheduled this weekend. Tickets $50 and include a 3-course meal, where guests can choose their entree.