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An all-inclusive evening

Drury Lane blends food and show for night out that rivals the big city

Published: Friday, March 28, 2014 10:42 a.m. CDT

Classic shows, outstanding surroundings, and big name talent are just a few of the things you’ll find at the Drury Lane Theatre in Oak Brook. But if you are seeking a little more that the standard night at the theater, it’s a perfect choice for the perfect night. Drury Lane is more than just a theater—they also have dinner and banquet side of the venue that adds to the allure of a live show.

“It’s kind of like one-stop shopping,” artistic director William Osetek says. “You can come to the theater and dine before the show and stay here for the night.”

Unlike other dinner theaters, Drury Lane has a separate dining area in addition to the 1,000-seat theatre. Theatergoers can choose to see a performance only, or they can opt to purchase a dinner/theatre package, making Drury Lane a top-notch suburban alternative to the expensive theaters downtown.

Still family owned and operated by the heirs of original owner Anthony DeSantis, prices for shows at Drury lane are usually half of what an evening of theater downtown costs, and tickets start at around $30.

“It’s obviously a really tricky time with the economy, and entertainment and treating yourself is one of the first things that you give up if you’re struggling,” Osetek says. “Having a place that still offers the quality that we do with the inexpensive ticket price is how we have sustained our audience. It’s a real success story for the DeSantis family.”

Drury Lane Theatre may look a little different than the days when Anthony DeSantis first opened its doors 30 years ago, but one thing remains the same—it’s still a family enterprise.

Now owned by Anthony DeSantis’ five grandkids, the Drury Lane Theatre has become a standard for theater in the Chicago area. Although Anthony passed around eight years ago, his legacy still lives on with his grandkids as the theater embarks on its 30th season this March.

The building, which was custom-made for the DeSantis family to live and work, has been modified over the years to keep up with current trends. Renovations have been made to all of the dining spaces, the French room, the theater, and the entire 1,000-square foot building recently was re-carpeted and painted.

The looks may be different, but the same family and employees are behind keeping its doors open on a daily basis. Drew DeSantis, one of the five grandkids that share ownership of the building, serves as a producer for the shows.

“Everyone kind of has their own role,” he says. “Some of our employees have been with us for years and I have known them my entire life. It’s home for every one of us.”

The arrival of the 30th season has led to extra planning for the performances chosen this year. One of the productions that the staff has been looking forward to is the season opener, “Les Misérables.” “We had been looking for a long time for the entire season shows because it’s the most important decision we make,” Ostecek says. “We knew we wanted to do something epic for the first show of the 30th anniversary.”

A winner of eight Tony Awards, Les Misérables follows the story of convict Jean Valjean as he risks his life for the people he loves. The production at Drury Lane will run from the end of March through Sunday, June 8, and is directed and choreographed by Rachel Rockwell.

“Les Mis is hands-down the biggest production that we have ever put to the stage,” Osetek says. “It has the most actors, most musicians, most technical aspects, and it dwarfs everything we have ever done. It’s just one of those shows that’s as big as it gets.”

The subscription series also includes “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “Camelot,” “West Side Story,” and “The Game’s Afoot,” which will be directed be Osetek.

“We’ve been here for 30 years and we will be here for another 30 years,” DeSantis says. “My grandpa brought this theater from nothing, and although the personality has changed over time, our vision is to continue to keep Drury Lane a regional powerhouse.”

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