During our Deep Ellum days (1985-2002), our New Year’s Eve celebrations were a bit different. Our 141-seat venue was a lot smaller than our elegant digs at the Eisemann Center. It was definitely cozier, which was sometimes wonderful and sometimes challenging.
In those days, we offered party hats, noise makers, and champagne, just as we do today. Thanks to the hard work and culinary genius of my mother (affectionately known as “Mrs K”), we also offered a black-and-white appetizer buffet. That’s right, everything was either black or white, or it had “black” or “white” in its name! (This allowed us to serve black eyed peas, an important Texas tradition!)
The process was simple but laborious. At least a month ahead of time, Mrs K began menu planning and shopping. Then she started preparing anything that could be made ahead. By December 31, she was ready! She loaded up her car with enough food to feed 141 people (plus cast and crew) and drove to the theatre, generally arriving around 7 pm.
At the theatre, my wife Barbara was waiting along with 3 volunteers. Three was the magic number because the only work space we had was a small green room/office area with one table. As soon as Mrs K arrived, Barbara and the volunteers descended on her car and brought in all the food.
Then the magic began! We had to assemble and lay out a buffet for 141 patrons, staying within the confines of our work space and finishing no later than 9 pm. 9 pm was generally when the intermission ended and we were free to set out plates of food on the buffet table in the lobby. But we had to be super quiet!! There was no sound separation between the lobby and the seating area!!
Once the food was laid out, we pre-poured the champagne and we waited until the end of the show. Under cover of audience applause, we dumped out the box of hats and noisemakers, then ran to assume our positions.
It was a strange kind of fun. And the audience always enjoyed themselves, ringing in the New Year with us and staying well past midnight! Those were good times.
We have a different kind of fun at the Eisemann! For a couple of years, we tried to recreate the black-and-white appetizer buffet, but it was not to be. We couldn’t bring in our own food so we worked with approved caterers. The result was expensive and disappointing. So we switched to cake and champagne and everyone was much happier! And of course there are party hats and noisemakers!
The biggest plus of being at the Eisemann on New Year’s Eve is that Barbara is no longer in charge of laying out and maintaining a buffet for our audience. These leaves us both free to mingle with the audience and relax. Frankly neither of us is in our 30s any more, so this is a welcome respite! If you join us for New Year’s Eve (our Opening Night) this year, please feel free to say hello in the lobby! We look forward to seeing you!