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Mourning The Great Caruso

Folks who once performed at The Great Caruso mourn its loss.

Although the building in the 10000 block of Westheimer is now little more than twisted metal and fire-blackened concrete, some members of the city’s theater community said the Great Caruso will always hold a special place in their hearts.

“I just feel it’s a great loss,” said Damon Price, who first appeared in its 2000 production of Dreamgirls.

“It was the first place where I performed professionally,” Price said. “I’ve been performing there ever since.”

Though the atmosphere may have been more relaxed than at high-profile venues such as the Alley Theatre, Price said the actors and behind-the-scenes workers always put on the best performance possible.

Michael Tapley, who directed about 10 productions at the Great Caruso in the past six years, said he was devastated by the loss.

“I’m going to miss it,” Tapley said. “I’m not sure Houston, or any other city, will see a dinner theater quite like that. It was an experience.”

I can’t speak for other cities, but for sure there’s nothing else quite like The Great Caruso in Houston. The only place I can think of that’s remotely similar is Magic Island (another place I’ve driven past a bazillion times but never frequented).

(Idle thought: Am I the only person who thinks it’s odd that Dallas has a Medieval Times restaurant but Houston doesn’t? Not that I’m advocating, mind you. I’m just curious.)

Anyway. PDiddie, who unlike me has actually been to Caruso’s, extends his sympathies to the place’s now-former employees, who find themselves out of work two weeks before Christmas. I join him in hoping for better times for all involved next year.

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  1. Robert Salm says:

    Our family visited the restaurant numerous times in the 1990s, and the shows were more theme/cabaret then. The performances were always top notch and well-ensembled, and the food superb. Our family drove by the restaurant Sunday late morning and were just shocked and sickened at the site of the complete loss. It’s so sad that this happened.

  2. tracy says:

    i worked there dancing back in the late 80’s. i loved it. it holds such a special place in my heart and brings back memories of me and my first love.