TRAVEL BLOG

December 7, 2018

“The Perfect Christmas” at the Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre


It was a rare rainy day in Southern California, but we didn’t let the rain dampen our Christmas spirit!  It actually turned out to be a great day to be inside at the cozy Candlelight Pavilion where we enjoyed their annual Christmas show. The Candlelight Pavilion is located in Claremont, CA, an affluent college town about 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. Claremont is known for its seven higher-education institutions, its tree-lined streets, and its historic buildings. Due to its large number of trees and residents with doctorates, it is known as “the City of Trees and PhDs.”

The theater is actually housed in Claremont High School’s old gym which looks like a humble quonset building from the outside.  In fact, I had a passenger on board who was born and raised in Claremont and he could remember attending sporting events when the building was still a gymnasium.  The building was eventually transformed into a dinner theater and was opened in October of 1985 by Ben Bollinger. Since it’s humble beginnings, the Candlelight has grown into one of the most respected theater venues with the reputation for offering Broadway caliber productions. This family-run operation is a gem and the staff and management are very attentive.  You can tell everyone puts their hearts and souls into this place, especially Ben himself, who is always there to greet every group as they arrive. I have been here on many occasions with DayTripper groups and have seen such popular productions such as West Side Story and Cats, both of which were very well done.  My groups never leave disappointed!

The Candlelight Pavilion hosted its first Christmas show in 1985 and has been producing one every year since, with a focus on the spirit of the season and bringing family and friends together. This year’s Christmas show entitled “A Perfect Christmas,” features a very talented cast of over 20 people, and the sets, lighting, actors and singing were all just amazing.  The production told the story of a young couple who moved to a community famous for their annual holiday decorating contest and they were expected to participate as newcomers.  The couple was selected to pick this year’s holiday decorating theme, however the husband mistakenly chose “Christmas on Mars” without consulting his wife.  The Mars theme was not well received by his wife or neighbors and the entire community began to argue with one another and ultimately decided not to decorate.  Thankfully Santa Claus and Mrs. Santa Claus paid a visit from the North Pole and saved the day!

Many dinner theaters have the reputation for mediocre food, however the cuisine at the Candlelight is always superb!  It is prepared by an executive chef and served by his formal wait staff…an experience that rivals any fine dining establishment!  Our delicious menu choices today included slow-roasted tri-tip, marinated chicken breast prepared with mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and boursin sauce wrapped in a puff pastry and served with cranberry beurre blanc sauce, and grilled salmon fillet served with dill chardonnay cream sauce.  I had the tri-tip which included broccoli, carrots and a baked potato.  Everything was perfectly cooked and delicious.  I also heard great reports back from people who had ordered the chicken and salmon.  Our dessert options were equally delicious!  I usually have their cheesecake, which is always delicious, but this time I tried the sugar free carrot cake and I am happy to report back that it was really good, so much so that it’s hard to believe it was sugar free! The day provided a definitive “kick-start” to everyone’s holiday season and we returned to San Diego with smiles on our faces and a song in our hearts!

Mark Jacobson
DayTripper Tour Manager

Tour: The Perfect Christmas at the Candlelight Pavilion
Date: December 6, 2018


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