Toby's Dinner Theatre

Last updated

Toby's Dinner Theatre
TypeTheatre group
Purpose Musical theatre, plays
Artistic director(s)
Toby Orenstein
Notable members
Johnny Holliday, Edward Norton, Caroline Bowman, Robin Baxter, Steve Blanchard, Mary Page Keller, Ric Ryder

Toby's Dinner Theatre is a dinner theater based in Columbia, Maryland.



Soon after the establishment of the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts (CCTA), Toby Orenstein decided to open a theater in her name. In 1979, she approached businessman James Rouse, the catalyst for the CCTA, and he agreed to helped start this endeavor. [1] Shortly thereafter, a Virginia-based restaurant group operated by Steve Lewis approached Orenstein with a partnership offer for the Garland Dinner Theater in Columbia, Maryland. [2] [1] [3] On December 4, 1979, Toby's Dinner Theater opened with a performance of Godspell. In a 2008 interview with the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame, Orenstein reflected on her apprehensiveness: [1]

It was Hal (husband, Harold Orenstein), who encouraged me to embark on this venture. He was so supportive. We had a son in college and a daughter in high school and financial concerns, but we just decided to do it. I took no salary for my work at the school. He had a good job as an economist. We did not want for anything, but we had only a small savings. The food company had the credit rating to qualify for the loan, but we still had to come up with money. We took every drop of savings we had and put it into the theater. I was scared to death. I had no idea how to run a business like this. I am the kind of person who jumps into the water and then finds out she can’t swim. My husband is the rational one.

On March 10, 2006, Toby's Dinner Theatre opened a second location in Baltimore with a run of Beauty and the Beast. [1] This location is now closed. [4]


In 1979, Toby's Dinner Theatre opened at its current location in downtown Columbia, Maryland, adjacent to the Merriweather Post Pavilion and Lake Kittamaquindi. It has an indoor seating capacity of 300 individuals. [3] [5] [6] The theatre has parking, buffet-style dinner, full bar, full menu, and live music and entertainment. [5] Dinner is a mix of American cuisine. The facility is ADA compliant. [7] Toby's is estimated to draw 4,000 subscribers and 80,000–102,000 patrons a year. [3] [7]


Recent productions include Dreamgirls , [8] Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat starring Caroline Bowman and Cathy Mundy, Beauty and the Beast , Show Boat , A Christmas Carol , Sister Act , Hairspray , Peter Pan , Into the Woods , South Pacific , and Newsies .

Awards and nominations

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Loretta Devine</span> American actress

Loretta Devine is an American actress and singer. She is known for numerous roles across stage and screen. Her most high profile roles include Lorrell Robinson in the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls, the long-suffering Gloria Matthews in the film Waiting to Exhale, and her recurring role as Adele Webber on the medical drama Grey's Anatomy, for which she won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in 2011.

The Helen Hayes Awards are theater awards recognizing excellence in professional theater in the Washington, D.C. area since 1983. The awards are named in tribute of Helen Hayes, who is also known as the "First Lady of American Theatre." They are presented by Theatre Washington, sponsored by TodayTix, a ticketing company, and supported in part by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, The Share Fund, Prince Charitable Trust, and Craig Pascal and Victor Shargai.

The Helen Hayes Awards are given to resident theatre productions in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. They include awards for the production itself, the direction, the acting, design and the stage plays themselves.

The Greater Baltimore Theater Awards are theater awards to recognize excellence in the professional theater in the Greater Baltimore, Maryland (USA) area since 2004.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alice Ripley</span> American actress

Alice Ripley is an American actress, singer, songwriter and mixed media artist. She is known, in particular, for her various roles on Broadway in musicals, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal and Side Show. She most recently played three roles in the short-lived Broadway musical, American Psycho. Alice Ripley has released albums with her band, RIPLEY, including the single, "Beautiful Eyes", released in February 2012. She also performs as a solo artist, while in February 2011 she released Alice Ripley Daily Practice, Volume 1, a stripped-down collection of acoustic rock covers.

Barbara Walsh is an American musical theatre actress who has appeared in several prominent Broadway productions. Walsh is known for her Drama Desk Award and Tony Award nominated role as Trina in the original Broadway production of Falsettos, as well as her turn as Joanne in the 2006 Broadway Revival of Stephen Sondheim's musical Company.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company</span>

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company is a non-profit theatre company located at 641 D Street NW in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1980, it produces new plays which it believes to be edgy, challenging, and thought-provoking. Performances are in a 265-seat courtyard-style theater.

The Studio Theatre is a non-profit theater production company located in the 14th Street corridor of Washington, D.C. It produces contemporary plays in a four-stage complex. Stages include the Metheny, the Mead and Milton, and Stage 4, a black box.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marcia Milgrom Dodge</span>

Marcia Milgrom Dodge is an American director, Choreographer and stage writer. After working in regional theatre, Dodge directed and choreographed her first Broadway production, a revival of Ragtime in 2009. The production received four Helen Hayes Awards in 2010, including one for Best Director, and received 7 Tony Award nominations including one for Dodge for Best Director of a Musical.

Solas Nua is a Washington, D.C.-based Irish contemporary arts organization. Founded in 2005, its first event was a production of the play Disco Pigs by Enda Walsh. While it is best known for its theater offerings, Solas Nua also presents programming in areas including film, music, visual arts and literature. The organization puts special emphasis on promoting recent work by up-and-coming Irish artists.

Megan Lawrence is an American actress best known for her roles on Broadway. Among other honors, she has been nominated for a Tony Award. She has also appeared Off-Broadway, in regional theatre and on television.

Jared Mezzocchi is an American theatre director and projection designer.

Luis Salgado is a Puerto Rican performer, director, choreographer, and producer. His career has led him to Broadway, film, television, and stages around the world. He served as associate director and choreographer of Cirque du Soleil's Paramour that opened April 16, 2019 at the Neue Flora theatre in Hamburg, Germany. He has worked with directors, choreographers and performers such as Andy Blankenbuehler, Jerry Mitchell, Sergio Trujillo, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Patti LuPone, Laura Benanti, Patrick Dempsey and Diego Luna.

Caroline Bowman is an American theatre actress who has performed in multiple Broadway musicals, including Fame, Grease, Spamalot, Evita, Wicked, Kinky Boots, and the national tour of Frozen.

Toby Barbara Orenstein is an American theatrical director, producer, and educator. She has two honorable mentions for the Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre. Orenstein was inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame in 2008. Selected by Eleanor Roosevelt for her federal education project in the Harlem, Orenstein taught Dramaturgy to students in a local public school in the late 1950s. In 1972, at the request of pioneering businessman and philanthropist James Rouse, Orenstein founded the non-profit Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts through which, the nationally acclaimed theatre troupe the Young Columbians was created for the United States Bicentennial. Later, Orenstein established the award-winning Toby's Dinner Theatre in 1975. Her commitment to the performing arts is considered legendary.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts</span> Theater school in Columbia, Maryland, US

Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts (CCTA) is a Greater Washington D.C. Area regional theater school based in Columbia, Maryland. CCTA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that is funded, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council, and the Howard County Arts Council from Howard County, Maryland.

The Young Columbians are a theater troupe established by Toby Orenstein in 1975 under the auspices of the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts. It is a unique ensemble of talented youth aged 15–21.

Ross Scott Rawlings is an American pianist, composer, conductor, and music director.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Theater Alliance</span>

Theater Alliance is a non-profit professional theater in Washington, DC, professionally incorporated in 2000 with the goal of producing work that would illuminate the experiences, philosophies and interests of DC's diverse population. That goal was furthered in 2002, when Theater Alliance moved from its home at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop to become the sole theater-in-residence at the H Street Playhouse. Once the H Street Playhouse closed, Theater Alliance moved to Southeast DC, where it has been the theater-in-residence at the Anacostia Playhouse since 2013.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Shird, Shannon (2008). "Maryland State Women's Hall of Fame: Toby Orenstein". Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  2. Hirsch, Rona (February 17, 1991). "Toby's Theater Offers a Full Course of Entertainment". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved February 15, 2021.
  3. 1 2 3 Pressley, Nelson (April 19, 2013). "Dinner theater, taken seriously". Washington Post. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  4. "Toby's Dinner Theatre Baltimore - CLOSED - Medford - Baltimore, MD". Yelp. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  5. 1 2 "Toby's Dinner Theatre". April 12, 2017. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  6. "Toby's Dinner Theatre". Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  7. 1 2 "Toby's Dinner Theatre of Columbia". Visit Baltimore. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  8. Harding, John (September 10, 2017). "Review: 'Dreamgirls' at Toby's Dinner Theatre - DCMetroTheaterArts". DC Metro - Theater Arts. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  9. Giuliano, Mike. "Toby's Dinner Theatre has a sporting chance with 'The Color Purple'". Columbia Flier. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  10. Pho, Patrick (January 23, 2013). "29th Helen Hayes Awards Nominees Announced". We Love DC. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  11. 1 2 Purcell, Carey (April 7, 2015). "Side Show and Sunday in the Park With George Win Big at Helen Hayes Awards". Playbill. Retrieved October 13, 2017.

39°12′32″N76°51′31″W / 39.20892°N 76.85849°W / 39.20892; -76.85849