It was with a packed house that the Alhambra Theatre & Dining in Jacksonville – America’s longest continually operating dinner theater – celebrated its 50th anniversary Dec. 11, 2017, with a “50th Birthday Bash.”
Guests of the event were treated to a garden cocktail reception, hors d’oeuvres and a three-course dinner, courtesy of Chef DeJuan Roy. The evening’s entertainment was provided by none other than musical legends Dean Martin (Andy DiMino) and Elvis Presley (Rick Marino).
“Welcome to the 50th birthday of the Alhambra Theatre,” Alhambra Managing Partner Craig Smith said. “Everyone in attendance tonight is a VIP to myself and to this great theater, and you’re VIPs because you care enough about something that’s so important to so many of us to be here tonight celebrating this auspicious occasion.”
Several elected officials were in attendance, including Jacksonville City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche, who was on-hand to present a proclamation from Mayor Lenny Curry to commemorate the occasion.
“It’s such a pleasure to be here tonight to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Alhambra,” Brosche said. “Congratulations to Craig and to everyone who has made Alhambra possible.”
Special presentations and honorable mentions were made to recognize those who were an integral part of that process, including Smith, Director Tod Booth and Harry Frisch, the generous donor who stepped in to help save the theater when it was in danger of closing in 2009.
“Harry Frisch believed strongly in Tod, he believed strongly in the Alhambra, he believed strongly in the fact that it was needed in our city and he just so happened to believe in me and my vision for what could be,” Smith said. “Without Harry Frisch, we would not be here tonight … He was the guy who made it happen.”
In tribute to Frisch’s contributions to the theater, Smith also made a special announcement regarding the Alhambra’s front garden.
“We decided to name our front garden the ‘Harry Frisch Garden,’” Smith said to enthusiastic applause. “The garden is named in honor of Harry Frisch as a thank you for his dedication to the arts and theater in Jacksonville. Without him, the Alhambra would not have persevered to this day.”