Dinner and a Show: 5 Fall Theater Pairings in Boston

By Scott Kearnan  |  September 3, 2013

Most local theater companies will be kicking off their fall seasons over the next two weeks, bringing world-class (and Tony Award-lauded) performances to Boston stages. But where can you grab pre-show dinner or a post-curtain nightcap? We've picked five popular performing arts companies, and offered an applause-worthy pairing for each. Thank you, thank you. (Cue: bow.) 

  • American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.): The A.R.T.'s Broadway revival of Pippin scooped up four Tony Awards this summer, but the Harvard Square-based group's fall season kicks off on September 13 with All the Way a meditation on politics and power set against the backdrop of Lyndon B. Johnson's presidency. (And starring Breaking Bad-slash-Malcolm in the Middle actor Bryan Cranston. Sweet.) 

    Dine: The elevated gastropub offerings at Russell House Tavern are perfect for a pre-show dinner. It's smart and refined but unpretentious, as good art often is. (Oh, and it's a good excuse to see what new chef Tom Borgia is doing in the kitchen since taking the reins last month.) 

    Drink: The cocktail program at Russell House Tavern is pretty stellar, but you might find yourself wanting somewhere dim, cozy and tucked away for tossing back nightcaps and talking over the show. Nubar (pictured), Harvard Square's under-the-radar hotel restaurant and lounge, will be happy to oblige. 

  • SpeakEasy Stage Company: The South End organization has a world premiere of Kurt Vonnegut's Make Up Your Mind, coming in November, a new adaptation of the famed author's briefly-staged 1993 play. But first they'll kick off the fall season on September 13 with Tribes, a Drama Desk Award-winner about the experiences of a young deaf man. 

    Dine: In the South End you're a stone's throw from any number of great restaurants. But on the same brick-lain plaza as the Boston Center for the Arts, SpeakEasy's home, is chef Gordon Hamersley's gold standard-bearing restaurant Hamersley's Bistro. Hype machines come and go, but its French fare has impressed crowds for a long run now, and for good reason. 

    Drink: There's great food to be had, but The Beehive is an appropriate place for a post-show drink. The subterranean den is chic and cloistered, one of the most stylish spots in the city, and has nightly live music so you can extend your entertainment. 

  • ArtsEmerson: Emerson College churns out students who become some of the most sucessful names in film and television. And in just three years, the performing arts organization it established has managed to become one of the biggest names in the Boston theater scene. On September 17 it kicks off its fall season with Columbinus, which looks back at 1999's infamous Littleton, Colorado school shooting via dramatizations of real interviews with survivors and teenagers across the country. 

    Dine: The aptly named Teatro (pictured), chef Jamie Mammano's Theater District entry, offers tantalizing Italian and a romantic vibe steps away from the Paramount and Cutler Majestic theaters, where the majority of ArtsEmerson shows are staged. 

    Drink: Running late? You can still stop for a sip at Sip Wine Bar, which offers its selection of vino by the bottle, full glass, half glass and (you guessed it) 2-oz. sip that is perfect for sampling. Or if you're in a rush to catch the curtain. 

  • Huntington Theatre Company: The Huntington just scored a big 2013 Tony win for Regional Theatre. Its fall season swings into action on September 7 with The Jungle Book, based on the stories of Rudyard Kipling. Hear them roar!

    Dine: Unfortunately, its Huntington Ave. location is surrounded by more pizza joints aimed at nearby Northeastern University students than finer, foodie-focused spots. But stalwart French restaurant Brasserie JO is just a couple blocks away, and even offers a free dessert if you show them your ticket stub. 

    Drink: Southern comfort food is a hit at Darryl's Corner Bar & Kitchen, but the hep cat hideaway also has a lively bar scene with fine cocktails and live jazz nightly. Perfect for toasting a night out. 

  • Broadway in Boston: On the way are some cool stage adaptations of everything from the movie Flashdance to the TV classic I Love Lucy. But there's still two weeks left to check out the first show of the fall, Wicked. The Wizard of Oz-inspired musical, based on the novel of the same name, runs through September 15 at the Boston Opera House. 

    Dine: Chef Jacky Robert's Petit Robert Central (pictured) is one of the few finer dining spots in Downtown Crossing, with a gorgeous interior designed by HGTV personality Taniya Nayak and a $5 "Rendezvous menu" perfect for after-work (5-7 PM) or pre-show bites, if you don't want a full dinner.

    Drink: The trendy cocktails are crowd pleasers all the time. But Revere Hotel's Emerald Lounge is a particularly apropos choice for "Wicked" big theatergoers. It has an Oz-nodding interior (note the twisted metal tornado sculpture and cocktail waitresses in red heels) and offers a special "Wicked Brunch" menu for matinee attendees (plus validated parking) through the run of the show.