This last weekend I was looking for somewhere special to take my girlfriend for our weekend away in Milwaukee. We were already staying in an absolutely beautiful hotel that we had stayed in a couple of times before (The Pfister) and I wanted something unique to do that we normally do not do, besides sight-seeing. I looked up theaters (or theatres) and while the Pabst was right there, I wanted something even more unique and found a dinner-theater. As neither of us had ever been, I called my girlfriend up and formally asked her out on a ‘date’ for this event.
Let me tell you, this experience was certainly unique. The building itself looks odd from the outside, a hodge-podge of building in various stages, or, so it appeared.
We drove the 50 or so miles from Milwaukee, visited my niece who lives out in that area, and then went on to the theatre, through back roads, and on into the never-never. Who would have thought that a theater (my spelling, not theirs), in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, would hold Broadway plays? I really didn’t expect it.
I grew up in southeastern Wisconsin and never made it to this part of the state. So, it was with a bit of derision, I thought we had wasted our time coming this far out into the sticks to see this play. Let me tell you, I was wrong, way wrong.
First, a traditional play is up on a stage and the audience out in the theater. This one, was on a square and the actors going up and down the aisles to appear on stage, or to come up from the bottom of the stage.
You wouldn’t think something like this would be packed, but it was and I had a HARD time getting tickets. I finally tried a last minute technique that worked, got us two tickets, and we went.
Our seats weren’t prime but we were able to see the stage without any problem and it was really worth the admission price (it was expensive, but I didn’t mind). We could clearly see the stage from our seats behind everyone else, my only complaint, our seats were set in a way that didn’t allow our feet to touch the ground and that hurts after a long while of sitting, especially at my age! Still, the actors were spell-binding and we were fortunate enough to watch their excellent rendition of Miracle on 34th Street.
I was enthralled, shocked really, that a play of this magnitude would be here, in Wisconsin and in the middle of nowhere. Madison yes, Milwaukee definitely, Chicago even, but Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin? Who would have thought. Apparently the Fireside has been a family-owned enterprise since 1964. They’ve expanded it four times from what I read on their website. It really is worth the drive and effort to go see a show there.
We read on their website that some people didn’t like the food, but let me tell you, it was a five-course meal before the play itself and definitely a good meal for anyone. My girlfriend is a vegetarian and even she had too much to eat because of their fantastic offerings. I myself had a steak and it was tender, juicy, and delicious.
Before and after the dinner, as we waited for the show to start, they had endless (and I do mean endless) shopping available along the side of their building. It went on and on and had the cutest things! Everything from glassware to knick knacks, and other things that would make great gifts.
I can’t rave enough about this experience, the actors were fabulous, very, very talented and I was in awe as I realized the enormity of what they were all accomplishing. It was fantastic!
If you get to Wisconsin, Milwaukee or Madison, even drive up from Chicago, it’s worth it, trust me!
I also had a weird experience that is worth retelling. I have a set of mystic blue topazes I have purchased over the years. I have the ring, the necklace, and a set of earrings. I’ve always had trouble with the earrings as the backs aren’t very good and I have felt (as I did that night) one came off and landed in my bra! That night, after removing my coat in the coat-check, I didn’t realize one of the earring studs had come out and I lost my earring! It really made me feel bad! I discovered it’s loss during dinner and had a couple of the people there looking for it, but to no avail. We even went through the stores again, hoping to catch a shiny glimpse of it. When we sat down and got to know our neighbors, the woman was ready to help us go look but I assured her it was insured and I was resigned at it’s loss. Inside I was trying not to let it cast a pale over our wonderful evening. At the intermission, when my aching body (from that awkward chair) was stretching…my wonderful girlfriend went and got me some advil and water (hurray for her!) The lady next to us, was on a mission, unbeknownst to me. She came back with the missing stud! She had gone through the coat area, where I was sure it had come loose as I took off my coat, and found it! What an amazing (and totally unexpected) experience. I am forever grateful. Really made the evening special along with the absolutely wonderful play we experienced together. I can’t say how much I appreciated fate for sending that wonderful couple to sit beside us, me casually mentioning my loss, and her determination in finding it. If I could, I would say to the powers-that-be, my guardian angels, and whomever may be out there helping guide my fate…a big THANK YOU, you gave me my own miracle that night!