QC Theatre Workshop Serving Up ‘Big Meal’
Davenport’s QC Theatre Workshop is serving up a “big meal” for its first gig of 2016.
The group is presenting the local premiere of Dan LeFranc’s acclaimed comedy/drama “The Big Meal,” with shows running at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 4-5, 11-12 and 18-19, and 3 p.m. March 6, 13 and 20. Doors open a half hour before each performance, and due to the play’s adult themes and language, parental guidance is recommended.
An epic presentation following the personal journeys of four generations of family members, LeFranc’s 2011 work was called “sharp and stunning, touching and engrossing” by the Associated Press, and this production’s nine-person cast will feature both Workshop veterans and performers making their company debuts.
A bighearted tale spanning roughly 80 years in 80 minutes, “The Big Meal” tells the extraordinary story of an ordinary family, beginning with the first meeting of 20somethings Nicole and Sam. As LeFranc’s saga progresses from their first kiss to their final goodbye, the show’s actors portray Nicole and Sam at various ages along with all manner of relatives, friends, and acquaintances, with each performer assuming between two and eight roles apiece.
Filled with narrative jolts, enormous laughs, and aching heartbreak, The Big Meal was described as “intimate and exhilarating” by The New Yorker and “packed with humanity and humor” by the New York Daily News, with Time Out New York adding, “You will be amazed.” LeFranc’s work was also named “the numberone play of 2011” by Time Out Chicago, and its offBroadway debut earned The Big Meal four Lucille Lortel Award nominations, including one for Outstanding Play.
Tyson Danner, the QC Theatre Workshop’s Artistic Director who was awarded Quad City Arts’ 2015 Lloyd Schoeneman Community Impact Award for Emerging Artist, says he’s thrilled that his company is the first to produce this exciting new play in the Quad Cities.
“We love bringing works to the Quad Cities that are brand-new to the area,” says Mr. Danner. “Especially works that are as fun and touching as this one.”
Serving as The Big Meal’s director is frequent Workshop participant Mike Schulz, who also helmed the company’s 2013 production of “Last Call.” The cast, meanwhile, boasts five area actors with previous
Workshop credits, plus four performing at the venue for the first time.
Among the Workshop veterans are Michael Carron, from June’s family drama Tribes; Erin Churchill, a member of the Last Call and Love, Loss, & What I Wore ensembles; Angela Elliott, showcased in the Workshop’s boom, Last Call, and Love, Loss, & What I Wore; and young actors BrodyTucker Ford and Laila Haley, both of whom appeared in last autumn’s The Pillowman.
Joining them are firsttime Workshop participants Sara Bolet, featured in Scott Community College presentations of God of Carnage and The Elephant Man; Jordan McGinnis, a St. Ambrose University senior recently seen in Parade and Glengarry Glen Ross; Josh Pride, an Augustana College junior who performed in As You Like It and A Green River; and Abby Van Gerpen, who returns to the Quad City theatre scene after a long hiatus, having previously worked with Danner in Green Room Theatre productions of The Glass Menagerie and The Melville Boys.
“We have been blessed with an incredible cast of professionals,” says Mr. Danner. “And it’s a good thing, too. The script is monumentally challenging, filled with overlapping dialogue and requiring multiple actors to play the same character throughout the generations.”
“The Big Meal” will be presented under the QC Theatre Workshop’s “Pay What It’s Worth” pricing policy in which guests see the play first and then pay afterward, allowing viewers to determine what the experience was worth to them personally. This innovative strategy was designed to create a wholly accessible theatrical experience for patrons regardless of financial means, and the policy’s great success – ever since the Workshop’s debut with 2012’s RED – has allowed it to continue for The Big Meal.