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posted May 8, 2010, 6:11 PM by Steve Umberger   [ updated Mar 25, 2015, 8:12 PM ]

By Stacy Peterson (Excerpted)

"The premiere of Clyde Edgerton’s “Lunch at the Piccadilly” earned a standing ovation and cheers from the crowd that packed the Cape Fear Regional Theatre on Saturday night."

"...these words come to mind when describing the oddity of a musical set in a nursing home: Irreverent and unflinchingly human."

"Just as you giggle over a clever line, Edgerton and songwriter Mike Craver hit you in the gut with some of the most meaningful and well-written songs I’ve heard in a musical in a long time."

“'Lunch at the Piccadilly' is based around Edgerton’s novel by the same name. Edgerton, a North Carolina author and professor, wrote the book in part based on his own experiences caring for an aunt in a nursing home from 1996 to 1999.

After adapting it as a musical with help from Craver, a former Red Clay Rambler and musical theater writer, Edgerton shopped the play to several regional theaters. But like three of his previous works, it came home to Fayetteville and artistic director Bo Thorp for its premiere.

For those who have read the novel, the musical version is much different.

The story of the play has more of a live performance arc with the characters, whose stories also end differently. And, of course, there are the songs of Craver that add to the story.

It is all based around the “First Breakfast Club,” an impromptu club of nursing home residents who aren’t quite ready to give up on life or independence.

While their uniting idea is improbable (combining churches and nursing homes across America), it gives them hope and a shared sense of community that is used to battle a corporate purchase of their nursing home, the Rosehaven Convalescence Center in fictional Listre, N.C.

And boy does the writing for each character shine. You have retired preacher L. Ray Flowers, the inspirational leader of the group; Lil’ Olive, the newcomer; Beatrice, the crazy like a fox one; and Clara, the, well, militant one."

"It also has Edgerton and Craver’s knack for taking a Southern theme and making it universal through the writing and planning.

Credit also goes to guest director Steve Umberger and the talented band for making the show flow so well.

We all knew that the Cape Fear Regional Theatre could do the work proud.

It’s good to know that Edgerton thinks so as well."