-Courtesy of En Route Marketing
Beginning May 16, Bristol Riverside Theatre (BRT) concludes its 2022/23 season with the Philadelphia premiere of Chicken & Biscuits by actor, director, writer, composer-lyricist, and playwright Douglas Lyons. The show is performed at BRT’s mainstage theater (120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, PA 19007), combining the excitement of a large stage production with the intimacy of a 300-seat theater. Chicken & Biscuits is led by director Tyrone L. Robinson and has 21 performances from May 16 to June 4.
“Along with the classics, BRT prides itself on introducing our audiences to fresh contemporary work,” said Ken Kaissar, Co-Producing Director at BRT. “We are so happy to present the Philadelphia premiere of Douglas Lyons’ hilarious play, Chicken & Biscuits. BRT loves ending the season on a high note with a comedy, and it’s even more meaningful that the story revolves around family. This show is sure to be a funny and poignant end to our successful 2022-23 season.”
Lyons’ family comedy originally debuted in 2020 at New York’s Queens Theatre, which was cut short due to the pandemic. Chicken & Biscuits was later presented at Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre in October 2021, with theater auteur Zhailon Levingston directing the production. Critics hailed Lyons’ 2021 Broadway production as “Laugh-out-loud funny. A feast of Black joy, love, and laughter” (Variety) and “a meal full of comfort dishes, difficulties resolved, and love requited” (Vulture).
In Chicken & Biscuits, rivaling sisters Baneatta Mabry (Miche Braden) and Beverley Jenkins (Gabrielle Lee) are burying their late father, but it’s the non-stop family drama that might be the death of them. Beverly, a single mother to precocious teenager La’Trice Franklin (Maya Imani), is determined to show off her blessings to the congregation gathered to pay respect to her father. Meanwhile, Baneatta and her husband Reginald (Walter Deshields) have their hands full with their daughter Simone (Ashley Nicole Baptiste) and son Kenny (Adrian Baidoo), who brings his white Jewish boyfriend Logan (Alex Brightwell) to the service. Everyone quickly gets swept up in the proceedings after a mysterious guest (Nellesa Walthour) reveals a family secret.
The cast of BRT’s presentation Chicken & Biscuits includes notable stage and screen actors, led by nationally-renowned actresses and entertainers Miche Braden and Gabrielle Lee as the Jenkins sisters. Representing the Mabry family, BRT brought in Philadelphia actor, Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Theatre in the X Walter Deshields, New York City-based actor Adrian Baidoo, and actress Ashley Nicole Baptiste. Joining them is accomplished actress and dancer Nellesa Walthour, dancer, singer, and actress Maya Imani, and actor and singer Alex Brightwell.
“Chicken & Biscuits is a feel-good comedy that promises laughs and fun for the whole family,” said director Tyrone L. Robinson. “I made my acting debut at BRT about 20 years ago, so I’m incredibly honored to be directing Chicken & Biscuits. With several events surrounding the performances, we hope to welcome the entire community to our dinner table for the comic feast that is Chicken & Biscuits.”
BRT has organized special events and programming to help encourage the Bristol community to come together for the Philadelphia premiere of Chicken & Biscuits. On April 30, audiences can look forward to Community Jam, a special preview event hosted at BRT. From 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., attendees can meet the cast and director while enjoying music from Bristol gospel choirs, savoring delicious comfort foods inspired by the show catered by local restaurants. Community Jam is a free event, but due to limited availability attendees are required to register. Online registration is available here.
Each of BRT’s productions offers special pre- and post-show engagements, included with the price of the ticket, for guests to create a special night out. The May 18 opening performance is followed by a catered reception where patrons can revel over the night’s show. At the Friday Festival (May 19), BRT patrons can enjoy complimentary beer and appetizers. Looking for a midweek wind down? On the second Wednesday of Chicken & Biscuits (May 24), the evening begins at 6:30 p.m. with Wine Down Wednesday, where audiences are served crudité, desserts, and wine. The third Thursday (June 1), known as Thirsty Thursday, includes an hour of complimentary snacks and beer before the show.
Additionally, on Friday, May 26, at 8 p.m., BRT will host its inaugural Black Theatre Night, an evening of celebrating and amplifying Black voices and access to Black theatre for all audiences. Black Theatre Night is part of BRT’s ongoing initiatives to create an inclusive and welcoming space for its diverse audiences. This presentation of Chicken & Biscuits will include light refreshments and a post-show social mixer, where attendees can participate in a conversation with director Tyrone L. Robinson, community leaders, and the cast. Advanced reservations are strongly encouraged. Tickets for Black Theatre Night are available here.
Tickets for Chicken & Biscuits are available online or by calling 215-785-0100.