Behind the scenes of Derby Dinner Playhouse


Derby Dinner Playhouse has been known to dazzle and entertain audience members for decades.

It’s shining and intriguing atmosphere has people questioning and wondering: how much effort really goes behind the scenes? And how does this affect the actors?

What is Derby Dinner Playhouse?

Derby Dinner is a theatrical live performing leader with a full team of actors, servers, host and hostesses. The stage has been performing Broadway musicals and comedies for over 45 years in the Kentuckiana area. They are a dinner buffet served with your choices of chicken, pasta, veggies and more! Derby Dinner includes a variety of cakes, drinks, and sundaes served with your choices of toppings and flavors. 

Behind closed doors

Actor and server Adam Raque has been performing at Derby Dinner for 23 years. Starting with his first show at the age of nine, he has been performing on stage with many roles.

Actor Adam Raque setting up his tables for the night.

“One of my favorite roles was Mama Mia and Legally Blonde,” Raque said. “Eddie was my character’s name in Mama Mia. I got to tumble and I got to do the dancing and stuff which was fun.”

Most of the waiters at Derby Dinner are also actors. They go through a rigorous schedule of performing to taking down orders to serving drinks to performing yet again all in the span of a couple hours.

“Being both an actor and a server is a lot harder to do than just being a server,” Raque said. “There are a lot more things you need to do. There are a lot more outfits you have to change and figure out when you need to close your table and turn in your money at the end of the night.”

Even though there are a lot of difficulties throughout the night, Raque has found the balance between having a good time and getting his job done. 

“What I love about it is the family feel,” Raque said. “Sometimes you can label it as a dysfunctional family but a family nonetheless. I feel like anybody who I work with has my back or I can call on anything that I need.”

Servers and actors rely heavily on each other and staff to make sure the night goes smoothly. 

Manager Scott King has been working behind the scene at Derby Dinner for 29 years. He has worked his way up from being a chief and has even been recognized as “the Derby Dinner guy”, all the way from Hawaii. 

“The best thing for me has been the employees,” King said. “ Even now, employees that have worked for me years ago still keep in contact with me.”

King starts his morning straight away at work. He takes all the orders including cake and bar services and whatever paperwork he ends up having before they open to the public. He checks the machines and makes sure all the servers have their tables ready to go. 

“I always think Derby is family-friendly,” King said. “Just because all of us are so close I consider most employees to be family.”

Derby Dinner has grown to 200,000 visits per year and over 10,000 season subscribers. Most of Derby Dinners’ audience are adults but some staff members are as alive and active in shows and off stage as they can be. 

Senior Theo Shelton has just recently entered the Derby Dinner scene. 

“I made some new friends that also go to New Albany,” Shelton said. “All my other jobs I dread going into but working at Derby is pretty awesome.”

Senior Theo Shelton waiting with co-workers before doors open to guests.

Shelton starts his night off by clocking in, prepping drinks, or cleaning the stage to get ready for when they open. 

“The hours aren’t bad compared to the other jobs I’ve had,” Shelton said. “ I love working with my coworkers.”


Derby Dinner Playhouse has upcoming shows including The Odd Couple, The MouseTrap, and A Christmas Story. For any other information you can look up their website at