Kevin Kreczko, 25, graduated from Niagara University in 2004 with bachelor's degrees in fine arts, focusing on performance and technical theater, and in science, specializing in hospitality and tourism.
He studied under the legendary Brother Augustine Towey, who started NU's theater program 45 years ago and is now director emeritus of Niagara University Theatre. Kreczko has performed at Niagara Falls High School, the Lockport Palace Theater and the Lancaster Opera House.
In 2005, he enrolled at the University of California, Irvine, and in June will receive a master's degree in fine arts, with a focus on management and design. Currently, he's the stage manager with UCI's School of the Arts.
Kreczko, a Cleveland native, has returned to his alma mater for a couple of months to stage a dinner theater production called "Broadway a la Carte" at Casa Antica restaurant, 490 Center St., Lewiston, at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 15. The show is being held in cooperation with the restaurant owners, Angela and Calgero "Charlie" Soldano. Kreczko's musical director is Michael J. Wah of Buffalo.
While he's here, Kreczko also will help direct a production of Eugene O'Neill's "A Moon for the Misbegotten" at the Irish Classical Theater in downtown Buffalo. It opened Friday and runs through November.
He also will stage-manage the Western New York premiere of Leonard Bernstein's Mass in St. Joseph Catholic Church, 3620 Main St., Buffalo, Nov. 16 to 18. The production will reunite Towey, who will direct, and Brendan Powers, former artistic director of Niagara University Theatre, who will be the lead performer.
>What got you interested in dinner theater?
Niagara University's College of Hospitality and Tourism presented a comedy-mystery in St. Vincent's dining hall in 2002 called "A Murder in the Family." I was the producer. The show was sold out for four nights and made some money for the school, so I thought, if NU can make money from this, so can I. The next year I put on a comedy mystery called "Mobbed and Murdered" at the former Villa Fortunata's restaurant in Lewiston. We did eight or nine shows there, all very popular.
After the St. Vincent's hall success, I created a company called K Murders -- Entertainment to die for (the K is for my name, both of them). There are between five and 12 performers, all NU theater students or graduates, and we perform in restaurants, churches, social clubs, places like that. We've done about 50 shows here since I started the company in 2002.
>What's the idea behind dinner theater?
In the Northeast, it's primarily done in winter. Restaurants are looking for ways to attract customers. And people like to combine entertainment with their food.
>How does it work, at Casa Antica for example?
Tickets cost $45, which includes a gourmet five-course meal, gratuity and tax. The restaurant seats 60 people. Each course is accompanied by a different theme. The first course of soup and salad will be opening numbers from Broadway shows, like "West Side Story," "Chicago" and "A Chorus Line." During the second course, antipasto, guests will be entertained with comedy numbers. Duets will accompany the third course of appetizers. Love ballads will complement the entree, and the fifth course of desserts will be accompanied by what I call show stopping numbers, like "One Singular Sensation" from "A Chorus Line." Each show lasts between an hour and an hour and a half.
>Given all your various artistic talents, do you have a specific career goal?
When you're in the business of theater, you don't have set goals. But what I'd like to do is go into corporate entertainment. When a company comes out with a new product, the goal is to amaze people. They have the money, and you create a spectacle.
>What's an example of that?
I've collaborated with Orenda International, a bio-technical company. They were announcing a new vitamin in a hotel in Phoenix. I met with their marketing directors and asked them: "What message do you want to get across?" I created the atmosphere with sound and lighting. It's a mixed bag of tricks. You have to pick the moment of entertainment and the moment of focus. The big thing for a corporate event is the opening. The question becomes, "How are we going to get this crowd pumped up?
>Any other corporate gigs in the works?
Sea World in San Diego is a client. I've had interviews with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. I love Las Vegas.
>How about the biggest show of all, the Super Bowl?
I'd love to do the halftime show. You're working with people who have millions of dollars for a minute commercial that's seen by millions of people. I'd like to create the atmosphere for that.
>If that happens, you can say it all started at Niagara University.
Yes, I can. I owe so much to Niagara. And to my mentors, Bro -- that's what I call Brother Augustine -- and Don Hill at UC in Irvine.