Theatre students perform at local restaurant

This performing venue offers unique dining experience with the "singing waiters." Photo by Joshua Trant. This performing venue offers unique dining experience with the "singing waiters." Photo by Joshua Trant.
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Working a shift at Italian Inn near the TCU campus is more than a job for some students in the theatre department – it’s another opportunity to perform outside of the classroom.

Known as the “Home to the Singing Waiters,” the Italian restaurant hires singers to perform in front of the dining crowd. 

Alan Shorter, associate professor in the department of theatre, said he thinks having a performance venue is a great opportunity for the theatre students that are employed at Italian Inn. 

“Working in that kind of environment pulls your mind away from being self-centered on what you’re doing,” Shorter said. “Your concentration gets honed.”

Shorter elaborated on the distractions from the restaurant-environment and how the theatre students benefit from them.

“It’s a wonderful feedback and a mirroring of what you’re doing,” he said. “Since your life is going to be [performing] in front of people, this gives you an opportunity to sing in front of a captive audience.”

One of the “singing waiters,” Elicia Gantverg, said performing at Italian Inn is a different environment than singing on a theatre stage.

“It’s a lot different when you’re yourself and people are judging you based on your own voice,” she said. “That’s kind of a good experience to get up there and sing songs and feel comfortable about your own performance.”

The senior theatre major said after she got the singing job at the restaurant, she became more comfortable auditioning for roles in musicals and plays.

“Auditioning is a lot easier for me now,” Gantverg said. “Right after I started [working], I started getting a lot more confidence to audition for musicals outside of TCU.”

Gantverg said auditioning to be a “singing waiter” was distressing at first, but in the end, was a beneficial experience.

“It’s actually a really good way to overcome stage fright,” she said. “It’s very humbling, it really is.”

Fatima Rodriguez, senior musical theatre major, said performing at the local restaurant has helped her become more comfortable singing for a variety of crowds.

“You just really learn to sing a little bit of everything because there are so many different customers there,” she said. “You learn to perform for that specific person and different styles which has been really helpful for audition situations.”

Since working at Italian Inn for the past three years, Rodriguez said her “singing repertoire” has become full of a variety of songs to perform and audition with.

“When I started working there, I had a set of six songs,” she said. “Now I can just flip through my book and [know] I have this song and this song that I can use for an audition.”

Rodriguez said being a “singing waiter” has also made her more comfortable singing on the theatre stage.

The more you do it, the more it just becomes second nature to you,” she said. “You’re putting yourself on the line.”

David Frey, another performer, said he spontaneously auditioned for the job after receiving an email from TCU saying Italian Inn needed singing waiters.

“It was actually very random,” he said. “I had to go in and figure out I had to sing on stage.”

Frey, junior environmental earth resources major, is not taking classes in the theatre department; however, he said he experienced stage fright and learned how to overcome it as soon as he auditioned.

“When I walked up on stage, I don’t even remember it to be honest,” he said. “It was pretty nerve-wracking.”

After he became more comfortable, Frey said, singing in front of people while working at Italian Inn has made him more confident in his everyday life.

“[Performing at Italian Inn] just really opened me up to experiencing everyone looking at you and watching you,” he said. “I’ve learned so much from it.”

“Singing waiters” perform on various days of the week and typically weekends. 

Italian Inn is located at 6323 Camp Bowie Blvd. and will be open on Christmas Eve from 5-10 p.m.

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