Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater opened in late June of 1978 with a breathtaking Good Company Players’ production of Gypsy. Despite a year of intense work, the kitchen and bar were still unfinished black holes, and food had to be catered in. The bathroom plumbing was hooked up just hours before the doors opened, there were only ribbons in place of some railings, and the service staff – mostly young teachers on summer vacation – had to make it up as they went along. It was a mess! It was exciting! It was a smash hit!
There was also livestock in the back alley (Gypsy has plenty of kids and animals) and a 12-piece orchestra crammed backstage. But from that hang-on-for-dear-life beginning, Roger Rocka’s Dinner-Theater has grown into a beloved institution, a regional theater with more than 180 productions in its history, and a reputation for superb shows and extraordinary dining.
The theater company at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater is Good Company Players, led since its inception in 1973 by managing director Dan Pessano. After five years of summer productions at downtown hotels, a collaboration between Dan and Roger brought Good Company Players to their year-round, permanent home at Roger Rocka’s.