The FlowerBox Lanes bowling alley in downtown Neosho has been transformed into a dinner music theater, while keeping some of the bowling alley items for other uses.

The FlowerBox Lanes bowling alley in downtown Neosho has been transformed into a dinner music theater, while keeping some of the bowling alley items for other uses.

The new name is the FlowerBox Theater.

Explaining the concept of the transformation is Dennis Magdaleno, co-owner of the new theater. He and his wife, Paula, also own Edgewood Bowl.

“The community couldn’t support two bowling centers, it did for sometime, I ran this one I think for 15 or 16 years, I had them both going as bowling centers,” he said. “It just kept getting worse and worse, so I ended up closing this one (FlowerBox Lanes), to only a rent a center, where you could rent the whole place. It just got down to two or three events a year, and it just wasn’t feasible. So I had to come up with an idea. And being that I have always been in the entertainment business, four bowling centers and always doing something in the entertainment side of things, I like to see people have fun.”

Through a mutual friend, he met Bob Novak, with the Fabulous Backroad Drifters Band.

“So we decided to convert it, Bob Novak and his band were looking for a theater, and I was looking for something to do, so Bob and I put our heads together, and said, ‘hey, let’s make this place,’” Magdaleno said. “We think that it could be unique because it was a bowling center, I left all of the bowling lanes in, filled in, I left one of the original lanes with the gutters in it, so people could see what (it used to look like). We took the gutters out, the ball returns out and we just filled it all of the way across. I had a 10-lane bowling center in storage, so I cut up all of the bowling lanes, I made the booths out of bowling lanes, table tops over there are bowling lanes, the bar is more than 20 some feet one way, all around, it is all bowling lane, the top is bowling lane, we used the sweeps from the pin setters up above our booths. Elvis Presley Blvd., Merle Haggard Way, American Way and the Backroad Drifters booth, but those are the sweeps that swept the pins off. So we just implemented all of that old stuff to give it some character. Then Bob had a lot of ideas with his music, his records. We have some unique pieces; there is a banjo there that goes way back. We have some Chet Atkins, a piece of music that he wrote by his own personal handwriting.”

They worked weekends and in the evenings to get the place ready to open. “We did the labor ourselves,” he said. “Basically, it was painting and cleaning, cutting wood, putting wood in places. We built the stage out of bowling lanes, all of the floor is bowling lanes.”

On Thursday, Jan. 24, the theater opened. And since then, they have had four shows.

“Right now, we are going to run a regular show on the second and fourth Thursday of each month, and be featuring the Fabulous Backroad Drifters Band,” said Magdaleno. “You will be offered a dinner show or as we are learning here, we are just going to offer just show tickets only. Show ticket only will be $10, and a dinner show ticket will be $20. So you will have the option. Doors will open at 6 p.m., the band will start at 7 p.m., there will be an intermission about 7:15 p.m. or 7:20 p.m. and the dinner will be served. Then the music will fire back up, serve desserts and things and the people will enjoy the rest of the show. It ends about 9 or 9:10 p.m.”

The band, which has been together for about five or six years, includes Novak singing and playing the guitar; Joe Johnson doing guitar and vocals; Corky Dow, mandolin; Tony Martin, base; and Gary Shipley, banjo, base, guitar, steel guitar (and other instruments).

“We do Americana music,” Dow said.

Adding to the music theme, Shipley said, “we do 50s rock, we do Merle Haggard, we do the Stones, new country and old country. But we do it mainly with acoustic instruments.”

Each night, the band plays 22 songs.

The food for the dinner consists of chicken or barbecued beef brisket, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn and dinner rolls. The dinner ticket does include coffee, tea or soft drinks. They will be changing up the food on a quarterly basis.
There is wine and beer served for an additional charge.

Those wanting to attend should RSVP to 437-3116.

The theater employs six to nine people.

Future plans

“We are hoping to feature other types of shows, other bands, maybe some entertainment (such as) comedians, maybe some magicians, different types of shows will be coming in the future,” Magdaleno said. “We are offering the facility for birthday parties. We have a sold out show booked in May, and we have two weddings planned. So we have a facility that people can have a big party, a big group, a family reunion, a high school reunion, or a wedding reception.

And we are very flexible for when they rent the building. We can serve them, they can rent the building and have us serve the food to the party, they can bring their own caterer, and they can bring their own food. The band is available if they want music, or if they want to bring their own band, that is fine.”

In April, the theater will be hosting the Ducks Unlimited banquet, he noted.