PHOTO CALL: The Big Meal, With Anita Gillette and Phoebe Strole, Opens Off-Broadway

By Matthew Blank
March 22, 2012

The New York City premiere of Dan LeFranc's The Big Meal, a play that spans 80 years in the life of a family — over the course of many mealtimes, both joyous and contentious — opened March 21 following previews from March 1 at Playwrights Horizons' intimate upstairs home at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater.



Tony Award nominee Anita Gillette (Chapter Two, Mr. President) is among cast members playing multiple roles.

Obie Award winner Sam Gold (Circle Mirror Transformation and Kin at PH, Seminar on Broadway, Off-Broadway's Tigers Be Still, The Aliens, The Coward and Roundabout's current Look Back in Anger) directs the play by the author of Sixty Miles to Silver Lake (at P73/Soho Rep) and In the Labyrinth (Soho Rep). Read Playbill.com's recent interview with Gold and the recent Playbill magazine feature on him and his contemporaries.



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The cast
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN



The limited Off-Broadway engagement plays through April 8. The highly theatrical play premiered in Chicago, to acclaim. The cast (including two children) navigates many roles in less than 90 minutes. A simple shift of the body might suggest a change in time period in the purposely barebones production in which actors drink from empty glasses. The only literal food in the play arrives (spoiler alert!) when a character dies. Then, they eat their meal in silence. The play's spare look at family life will remind some viewers of the best of Thornton Wilder, to say nothing of A.R. Gurney, Jr.'s The Dining Room

The Big Meal cast feature David Wilson Barnes (Becky Shaw, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Hamlet), Griffin Birney (Billy Elliot), Tom Bloom (Cyrano de Bergerac, Henry IV, Racing Demon), Tony Award nominee and Theatre World Award winner Anita Gillette (Chapter Two; All American, Love, Loss and What I Wore; "30 Rock"), Drama Desk nominee Jennifer Mudge (Dutchman, Oohrah!, The Philanthropist), Rachel Resheff (The People in the Picture, Mary Poppins, Shrek), Cameron Scoggins (Off-Broadway debut), Phoebe Strole (The Metal Children, Spring Awakening) and Molly Ward (Kin).

Here's how PH bills the new play, which was previously seen in Chicago: "Somewhere in America, in a typical suburban restaurant on a typical night, Sam and Nicole meet. And sparks fly, setting in motion an expansive tale that traverses five generations of a modern family, from first kiss to final goodbye. A stunning, big-hearted play that spans nearly 80 years in a single sitting, The Big Meal tells the extraordinary story of an ordinary family."

The Big Meal features scenic and costume design by David Zinn, lighting design by Mark Barton and sound design by Leah Gelpe. Production stage manager is Alaina Taylor.

LeFranc received the 2010 New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award for Sixty Miles to Silver Lake, premiered by Page 73 Productions and Soho Rep. His other plays include Origin Story, Bruise Easy, Night Surf, The Fishbone Fables, Backyard, Kill The Keepers and Catgut.

The Big Meal received its world premiere at American Theater Company in Chicago, where it earned five Jefferson Award nominations including Best Play and was named The Best Play of the Year by Time Out-Chicago. Awards include the Whitfield Cook Award, the John C. Russell Fellowship, a Djerassi Resident Artists Program Fellowship, a MacDowell Colony/Alpert Foundation Residency; and commissions from Yale Rep, Berkeley Rep, and American Theatre Company in Chicago.

The performance schedule for The Big Meal is Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30 PM, Saturdays at 2 & 7:30 PM and Sundays at 2 & 7 PM. Single tickets, $60, may be purchased online via www.TicketCentral.com, by phone at (212) 279-4200 (noon-8 PM daily), or in person at the Ticket Central Box Office, 416 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues).