If you were cooking for the cast of Shrek the Musical, and had a sense of humor, what might you serve?
What about Donkey-O-T smothered chicken breasts.
Or for the cast of The Addams Family? Morticia’s meatloaf could be on the menu.
The “Specialty of the House Cookbook” features recipes that been served mainly to Broadway Live and Lexington Theatre Company cast members performing at the historic Lexington Opera House.
Needless to say, it’s a cookbook that will appeal to theater aficionados or anyone who would appreciate a gift with a Lexington connection.
The home-cooked meals are prepared by a group of 15 volunteers who also usher for Opera House events.
Patty Doyle, volunteer coordinator for the meals, said of cast members, “A lot of these kids have been on the road for six months and haven’t had a home-cooked meal. It’s very rewarding to give them a good meal.”
Accolades from appreciative actors are scattered throughout the cookbook.
“What an AMAZING meal! I’ve never had such good food served to me while on the road! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!” wrote one cast member.
Gerri Weagraff, who played Shandel in Fiddler on the Roof wrote: “What a lovely theatre and city, and the hospitality is incomparable! Thank you so much for the delicious meal.”
There have been so many requests for recipes that now a recipe card is placed next to each dish. Frequently, the actors can take a picture of the recipe with their cellphones.
Serving meals started about eight years ago when the cast of Mamma Mia! came to the Opera House to rehearse before starting their national tour.
One of the cast members mentioned that in Memphis they were served a home-cooked meal and how much it was appreciated.
Luanne Franklin, the Opera House director of performing arts, asked the volunteer ushers if anybody would be interested in doing that here. “That’s how it got started,” said Doyle.
Five Broadway Live shows will come to Lexington this season. Two weeks in advance of a show arriving, Franklin contacts the company manager to get a count of the number of cast members, and to ask if any have dietary restrictions like being vegan, vegetarian, lactose- or gluten-intolerant.
Meals are only served on Sundays between the matinee and evening performances because the shows are so close together, said Doyle, a legal secretary with a downtown law firm, who loves to cook.
She comes up with a menu of an entree, two sides, salad and dessert. Volunteers prepare the food in their home kitchens and bring it to the Opera House where it is served in the Pardy Pub. The volunteer crew has cooked for as many as 100, and as few as 20.
Because the actors have to get right back on stage to dance and perform, you might think they would eat lightly between shows.
But Doyle said, “They can really eat. Sometimes the littlest ones, like dancers, can really put it away. But they get up there and burn it right off.”
It’s not unusual for cast members to take a plate of food with them to eat after the show.
Some recipes have kitschy names that are a take off on the name of a show like Peter Pan peanut butter soup, Frankenvegan vegetable soup and potatoes au gratin with Spam, served to the Spamalot cast.
The recipes are basically healthy, not loaded with cheese, cream and condensed soups, although some of these ingredients do show up. But on the whole, the foods go easy on calories.
Doyle and her volunteers see the Sunday evening performances of Broadway Live. “It’s really fun to see the actors on stage after we’ve met them,” she said.
And they’ve met celebrities like Cathy Rigby, who starred in Peter Pan; Richard Thomas, in 12 Angry Men; Karen Ziemba, 42nd Street; Jonathan Groff and Lexington’s own Laura Bell Bundy in the Lexington Theatre Company’s Concert with the Stars.
The “Specialty of the House Cookbook”, celebrating 40 years of Broadway Live in Lexington, is $27.50 when purchased at the Opera House. Through Christmas it will be sold there at every performance. It is $35 if bought online and shipped. Or call the Opera House at (859) 233-3535.
Proceeds will go to the Opera House Fund.
Beverly Fortune is a former Herald-Leader reporter. She can be contacted at beverlyfortune123@gmail. Her cellphone is (859) 948-7846.
Hearty tomato bisque
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2 (3 ounce) packages of cream cheese
11/2 cups of milk
2 cans (10 ounce) condensed tomato soup
2 cans (15 ounce) whole tomatoes, not drained
Melt butter in 3-quart pot, sauté onion until it is transparent (three to four minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in paprika, basil, garlic powder and cream cheese, stirring until cheese is creamy and smooth.
Gradually stir in condense tomato soup, milk beating with a hand beater until well blended and smooth. Break up tomatoes with a fork, stir into soup. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until very hot. Do not boil.
Buttery cooked carrots
1 pound baby carrots
¼ cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
Cook carrots in a large pot of boiling water for eight minutes, or until tender. Drain most of liquid, leaving bottom of pan covered with water. Set carrots aside.
Stir butter, brown sugar and salt into the water. Simmer and stir until butter melts. Return carrots to pot and toss to coat. Cover and let sit for a few minutes to allow flavors to mingle.