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James Oseland: Dinner Theater, U.S.A.
But back in the 70s, most dinner theaters really did have this kind of awful barn atmosphere," says Prescott Griffith, artistic director of the Carousel since 1978 and president of the American Dinner Theater Institute, a service organization that functions as a liaison for the nation's Equity-contracted dinner theaters.
Griffith is friendly man in his fifties who has witnessed the vicissitudes of the business first hand, from the era when dinner theaters were the reigning populist theatrical form and sitcom stars ruled their stages. "In the 1970s audiences didn't care about seeing Barefoot in the Park—they cared about seeing George Hamilton in Barefoot in the Park," Griffith says. "I guess I really don't miss the time when we did star showâ€"it got to be more trouble than it was worth," says Griffith. He looks at me and smiles.
The evening kicked off with a Broadway medley arranged by Prescott Griffith, former owner of Carousel Dinner Theatre, who sang Tuesday Musical-specific lyrics with former associate producer Karen Starr from spiral staircases on opposite sides of the backstage.
Griffith, who now lives in Palm Springs, Calif., had not sung publicly for 30 years.
Carousel Employee Biographies
Prescott F. GriffithConsulting ProducerE-mail: email@example.comActor, dancer, singer, musician, accountant, management information systems specialist and gourmet cook - Prescott F. Griffith brought many talents to his role as former Owner/ Executive Producer and now as Consulting Producer of the Carousel. A native of Fort Dodge, Iowa Griffith showed his first interest in theatre during high school, acting in, then producing, shows.In fact, he left such a mark on the school that its annual award to the outstanding student in theatre is named "The Scotty Award" in his honor.As a student at Drake University while completing a B.S. in accounting, he assembled a theatre company to perform Broadway musicals during the winter in restaurants throughout Iowa and during summers at the Tabor Opera House in Leadville, Colorado.He also was chosen as the first Director of Student and Faculty Computing at the then new Dial Computer Center at Drake.Upon graduation, he received the Alumni Award and the Outstanding Student in Accounting Award from Haskins and Sells.Griffith earned a Master's Degree in Management Information Systems at the University of Minnesota.He continued to operate his theatrical company and was an MIS consultant with Target Stores.Griffith was then appointed an Instructor in Computer Science at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. The Carousel Dinner Theatre began operations in 1973 in a converted Ravenna, Ohio supermarket and experienced some difficulties with consistency of production and service.Griffith assumed management control of the Carousel in 1978 and slowly established the continuity necessary to turn the operation around.Griffith purchased all remaining shares of the theatre from David C. Fulford in 1986 and relocated the Carousel to the current Akron location, making it America's Largest Professional Dinner Theatre.The Carousel became increasingly profitable under Griffith, gaining a reputation of strength and integrity.Motorcoach tour groups, the backbone of the Carousel business, also increased under Griffith's reign. In January of 2003, and after 25 years at the helm, Prescott F. Griffith sold the theatre to Carousel General Manager David Slaght and financial colleague Joe Palmer, formerly of Moore Stephens Apple.Mr. Griffith will remain on with the Carousel for the next several years as Consulting Producer, and looks forward to exploring other activities such as traveling.Prescott F. Griffith remains one of the most recognizable figures both in the Akron community and at the theatre.
Akron Symphony Orchestra
Prescott Griffith, previous owner and producer of Carousel Dinner Theatre, has come out of retirement to produce the entertainment as a benefit for the Akron Symphony.
Madeline was saluted at Guy's Party Centre and by multi-talented producer Scott Griffith retired owner of the Carousel Dinner Theater, who wrote and illustrated a unique book for her based on the Madeline children's book series.