StarDust draws nostalgic to Parkhill

StarDust dinner theatre, Parkhill
September 8 & 9 – Shania Twin
(519) 294-1141 for tickets

Story and photos by Casey Lessard

With four sold-out shows under its belt, the StarDust dinner theatre seems to have hit on the right combination to attract a nostalgic audience looking for a good meal and a good time.
“Really nice,” said Dan Fraser of Port Franks, who attended the August 18 performance by Elvis tribute artist Roy LeBlanc. “Food was great. Seating is great. We’re having lots of fun.”
Fraser is a fan of LeBlanc, whom he saw previously at the Western fairgrounds.
“I saw that he was going to be in Parkhill this evening and I gathered up a bunch of friends of mine. He really looks like Elvis Presley, from back here anyway. I don’t know him personally. I just know that he works at the St. Thomas Assembly Plant. That’s where I used to work. We’ve had a good evening and the entertainment’s great.”
A fan since LeBlanc was crowned professional grand champion at the 2001 Collingwood Elvis Festival, June Mogk of Stratford jumped at the chance to see him perform again.
“I think he’s one of the best,” she said. “He resembles Elvis and he sure sounds like him. I could look at him forever.”
That’s music to the ears of Dustin Pritchard, who owns the StarDust with his parents, members of the Satiniques music group that performed at the July grand opening.
“We talked to a lot of people and they want the most popular 50s and 60s music,” Pritchard says. “We try to get the tribute artists out for that kind of thing. We’re going to have Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers, Johnny Cash, and a whole gamut of different stars from the good old days.”
The dinner theatre will have to rely on more than the Parkhill crowd to survive, and Pritchard’s team is promoting it to markets within driving distance.
“If you take a look around downtown Parkhill, all the really successful businesses – especially the boutique businesses – are the ones that bring people from out of town,” he says, noting he expects about 10 per cent of his clientele will be from Parkhill. “Everybody else is from Grand Bend, Strathroy, London, Sarnia and even Stratford.”
“I think this is a good idea,” says Parkhill resident Joan Chittick, who came to the show. “It will draw a lot of people from out of town. Parkhill is a small town that’s struggling. The more people we get here the better.”
The StarDust will continue to bring in tribute artists every two to three weeks for the first season, including a Shania Twain tribute September 8 and 9.
“After Shania Twin we have Johnny Cash. Then we’re doing a Grease musical themed murder mystery show. It’s a dress up thing for Halloween. We’ve got the Fab Four with the Beatles. They play at Stage West all the time and are very popular. Then we have the Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly and Everly Brothers. For our New Year’s party, we’re going to have an eight-piece orchestra and a soloist singer. It’s a nice classy event. Still kind of back-in-the-day, but classy, where the ladies can dress up and the guys can take out their ladies to a show.
“Because of the price that we offer the show, with dinner too, we think we are providing really good value for our customers.”