Baby boomers, unite! At long last, there's a musical with the words 'Medicare' and 'Medicaid' in the song lyrics, and a plan to save the world. Lunch at the Piccadilly is a new musical comedy written by two noted
North Carolinians: best-selling author Clyde Edgerton and composer
Mike Craver, an early member of the Red Clay Ramblers. With 20 songs
of almost every imaginable style, this wise, warm, and hilarious show is
out to change the world–one rocking chair at a time.
Unable to keep up with the times, the Rosehaven retirement home is being sold to Ballard College. Nothing is supposed to change, but the residents have already noticed a difference in the cornbread. It’s not looking good. But newcomer Lil Olive brings a revolutionary new idea to get the residents out of their rockers. The quirky, indomitable senior citizens find some surprising solutions to their problems in this unpredictable new show that has been called “silly and soulful.”
Photo by Donna Bise
“You have to see it to believe it!
At the very moment (the show) confronts despair and loneliness, those very issues
turn out to be ripe material for satire.”
Everyone wondered, how could it be done? How would you make a musical out of a best-selling novel in which the leading characters are senior citizens living in a nursing home? But then it became clear that if anyone has a reason to sing - and lots to sing about - it’s those folks.
The show takes place on the rocking porch of the Rosehaven Convalesence Center in little Listre, N.C. Unable to keep up with the times, Rosehaven is being sold to Ballard College for use as a care facility for wealthy donors. Nothing is supposed to change, but Clara Cochran's already noticed a difference in the cornbread. And the usually rowdy ex-Rev. L. Ray Flowers has lost the will to witness. Grim it is, but enter Lil Olive, whose recent broken hip means the end of her living-alone days. Worse yet, her nephew Carl now has to tell her to turn in her car keys. Lil brings new life to the porch - along with a revolutionary new idea.
Photo by Donna Bise
“It has Edgerton and Craver's
knack for taking a Southern theme
and making it universal.”
When she realizes there’s a church across the street, and a preacher in the house, she and L. Ray unite the “porchers” to form The First Breakfast Club - so called because, “after 2,000 years of Last Suppers, we need a first breakfast to follow it up." They’re not really sure how it works, but, says one of them, “It sure is nice to have something to get up for in the morning.”
As the FBC gains members and momentum, the unruly residents begin to revolt, demanding changes at Rosehaven and finally erupting in a roof-raising rap. Along the way, everyone gets another chance. The “porchers” get a second life, the bachelor Carl falls for Rosehaven's director (and single mom) Anna Rhodes, Anna finds a surprising way to save Rosehaven, and Lil gets to drive again…briefly. As the sun sets on Rosehaven, we may wonder just how long the FBC will last, but we know it has given its members - and us - the chance, and the party, of a lifetime.
Photo by Donna Bise
“(The show) puts us inside their heads,
with a gentle and broad wit and a
tougher kind of wisdom.”
Road to Piccadilly
Lunch at the Piccadilly had its first production at Cape Fear Regional Theatre, and was then further developed by The Playworks Group in productions at Parkway Playhouse, Festival Stage; the developmental series at the York Theatre Company in New York; and at Booth Playhouse in the Blumenthal Performance Arts Center
From Clyde Edgerton:
In 1996, my aunt entered a nursing home. I was a full time writer, didn’t have a “day job,” so I could visit her either in the morning or afternoon. I’d stop in to see her every few days. One afternoon, I was visiting her, trimming her toenails. She looked over at her roommate Ernestine and said, “Don’t you wish you had a nephew who'd come and do for you like this one does for me?” Without missing a beat, Ernestine said, “I got two nephews. They both WORK.” I knew a scene like that belonged in the book. Nursing homes house extreme loneliness, they also house humor and heroism. Families of nursing home residents, sometimes suffering from despair, are reluctant to talk about that despair. I decided to write a nursing home novel. And I decided to write a play inspired by the novel. I wanted the play to have music. So I asked Mike Craver, one of my favorite singer-songwriters, to write the music. Then my friend Bo Thorp (at Cape Fear Regional Theatre) agreed to produce the first production, and Steve Umberger, another friend, agreed to direct. It first belonged to Mike and me, then to Bo, then to Steve, then to an insightful and hard-working bunch of actors and musicians. Now it’s yours.
From Steve Umberger:
Little did I know when I first worked on Lunch at the Piccadilly that it would turn into a decade of IHOP meetings with Clyde Edgerton and Mike Craver to talk about script revisions for 3 more productions. (“What if this character said this ...?,” “What if there was a song about that ...?,” “Pass the biscuits.”) But as we worked on that first production, we realized that the show might have the largest audience of any show ever. Let’s face it, none of us are getting younger, and the 90+ crowd is the fastest growing segment of the population.
Most of us either know someone in a nursing home, or we’re in a nursing home, or we will be -- unless we get “run over by a bread truck” (as one of the characters says). It’s been great fun to work on a show that reminds us that, at the end of the road, we see that “we have loved every minute of it, no matter how good or how bad.”
Thanks to the many who have helped bring Piccadilly to this point, especially Clyde and Mike, Bo Thorp (who rolled the dice on it first), Amy Jones (who taught it to sing and dance), and Aldersgate retirement community, sponsor of the show's recent production. The unique partnership with Aldersgate has helped this silly, soulful story find a bigger flock. We all believe in the show's simple wish for everyone to have a fair shake, a decent piece of cornbread, and a porch with a rocker for anybody who needs one.
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©2015 The Playworks Group, LLC
All Rights Reserved.
Additional production photos:
Norris Greenlee, Bobby Moody
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