Can the Show Go On?
When the Three Little Bakers Dinner Theatre closed, it was the end of an era. Was it the end of a legacy, too?
(page 3 of 8)
That’s debatable, says Tom Carper. “Three Little Bakers has been part of Delaware’s landscape since 1972,” says the U.S. senator, an old fan. “Tens of thousands of people enjoyed spending time there for weddings, Broadway shows, good times and good food.”
The success was earned. Like many children raised during The Great Depression, Hugo, Nick and Al grew up poor, but “worked hard and fought hard,” says Hugo Immediato Jr., TLB’s former entertainment director. “I watched my father work seven days a week and come home so tired, he’d fall asleep at the dinner table.”
The Acromaniacs started Three Little Bakers after achieving worldwide fame in the 1940s. They shared marquees with Milton Berle, Kate Smith and Jackie Gleason. The act tumbled in 1947 when Nick broke his vertebrae in four places.
The accident brought the brothers home to Delaware, where they started a bakery, expanded to seven retail outlets and created a successful catering operation.
The Acromaniacs put their hearts into the bakeries, but their souls were in show biz. In 1971 they built a 450-seat dinner theater and bakery in Kennett Square, which they outgrew in 10 years. In 1984 they bought the Pike Creek Valley Country Club, with its 18-hole golf course and pro shop, tennis courts and pool. They built the 900-seat theater building, which housed a proscenium stage. Its added thrust, which frequent performer Tony Danza called “a tongue,” doubled as a dance floor. All sorts of intermission spectacles happened on that stage. Couples celebrated anniversaries. The Acromaniacs doled out giant heart-shaped breads. Kids dictated wish lists to Santa.
Page 4: Can the Show Go On?, continues...