Coming of Age





THIS FALL, most productions at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center focus on familiar characters: Beauty and the Beast at Belk Theater in late September, Dracula at Booth Playhouse in October. But on September 17, Booth Playhouse will be transformed into a backdrop not often seen in the theater: an assisted-living home for seniors.


Lunch at the Piccadilly is a musical comedy, adapted from a novel by North Carolina writer Clyde Edgerton, that follows the characters in an assisted-living home that’s under new ownership. Aldersgate, a continuing care retirement community on Shamrock Drive east of uptown, provided some of the financial backing to bring the play to Charlotte.



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OCTOBER 5, 2015


Lunch at the Piccadilly Closes Successful Run At The Booth Playhouse


Sponsored by Aldersgate, a visionary senior living community, Lunch at the Piccadilly closed its run at Booth Playhouse/Blumenthal Arts after three weeks of performances and lots of great conversations about living life to the fullest, whatever your age may be. The ongoing Piccadilly project also includes intergenerational programs that we hope will continue to mirror the "world movement" started by the spirited Rosehaven residents in the show.  Stay tuned for updates!



SEPTEMBER 13, 2015


Lunch at the Piccadilly Offers Humorous Food For Thought





Add the ages of the guys behind the local premiere of Lunch at the Piccadilly, and you realize they are collectively older than the United States of America.


So composer Mike Craver, author Clyde Edgerton, director Steve Umberger and Tim Rogers – director of mission advancement for Aldersgate Retirement Community, the production’s principal sponsor – are the right quartet to put a musical about senior citizens on its feet.


Well, back on its feet. The version that opens Thursday at Booth Playhouse follows a decade of work and five prior outings.


“I would say it’s finished,” Edgerton remarked tentatively. “I have loved working on it – I enjoy watching the audience reactions – and I could piddle with it forever. But I would have forgotten this thing a long time ago if Steve hadn’t stayed with it and looked for other places to put it on and bugged us to keep working.”



Photo by Donna Bise

APRIL 15, 2017


Lunch at the Piccadilly Continues Its Winning Streak


Congratulations to Electric City Playhouse on their sold-out production! Here are some of the comments they received during the run:


"Once the word hit the streets after the 1st & 2nd performance, we were sold out solid for the rest of the run."

Dona Shiflette


"This will go down as my favorite play. I never laughed so hard."

Scott Voorhees


"This proves theater can be entertaining, yet compel us to look serious issues head on."

Craig Johnson



AUGUST 26, 2015


Humor In Aging And Lunch At The Piccadilly




Listen to author Clyde Edgerton, Director/producer Steve Umberger, and Tim Rogers of Aldersgate talk with WFAE's Mike Collins on Charlotte Talks about Lunch and the Piccadilly and the project it has inspired.



AUGUST 28, 2015


‘Poignant and unpredictable’ play tackles concepts of aging, support and community





Finding a supportive and healthy community in which to flourish is a fundamental human concern for people of all stripes at every age. Vulnerable segments of society are often required to work harder to find and maintain that sense of stability.


The musical comedy “Lunch at the Piccadilly” explores these themes with the residents of a nursing home who grow increasingly concerned with the changes they see occurring when it is sold to a local college. The play makes its Charlotte debut Sept. 17 at the Booth Playhouse



AUGUST 26, 2015


Clyde Edgerton at
Mt. Island Library


While Clyde Edgerton was in town for the start of Piccadilly rehearsals he took a trip out to the Mt. Island Library where he was met by an enthusiastic group of followers. He spoke to the group on Aug. 26, telling them the story of what inspired him to write Lunch at the Piccadilly, as well as the process that has evolved for the play.


He even surprised the audience by singing two songs from the musical (written by Clyde and Mike Craver). He also read from his newest book Pappydaddy’s Book for New Fathers and

had everyone laughing. He answered questions and signed books from long-time fans. Everyone was pleased to meet Clyde and to learn more about Lunch at the Piccadilly!

AUGUST 25, 2015


Lunch in Rehearsal


Rehearsals for the new premiere of Lunch at the Piccadilly are underway, in prep for previews beginning September 17. We're excited about the cast and creative team assembled, including (front row, from left) composer/performer Mike Craver, choreographer Linda Booth, Patricia Cucco, Rebecca Koon, Trip Plymale, musical director John Coffey, director Steve Umberger, Mary Mossberg, Greg King, Beau Stroupe.

Lyrical Photography

AUGUST 13, 2015




Lunch at the Piccadilly director Steve Umberger and Tim Rogers of Aldersgate, the production's sponsor, were featured on WBTV's New with Kristen Miranda.





Knee to Knee–Singing to Their Hearts’ Content


Karen Singleton and her vagabond troupe of singers/musicians from the Charlotte Folk Society have been thoroughly enjoying leading song circle singalongs throughout August with participants at PACE, a senior daycare center and two retirement home facilities, Aldersgate and Waltonwood, all in the Charlotte vicinity. It's all part of the extensive outreach program inspired by the production of Lunch at the Piccadilly.


Says Karen, “The delightful folks at PACE, our first stop, seemed to have a fondness for old-time gospel, such as Down By the Riverside and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.  But when we began singing She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain, one of the singers just had to get up and dance.  By the end of each of these gatherings, we usually have had 1 or 2 folks come up to share with us about an old favorite song they grew up hearing. On our return visits to each facility, we intend to start including songs we hear about along the way and keep that conversation going.”


AUGUST 1, 2015


Lunch at Aldersgate


Members of the Lunch at the Piccadilly company spent the day at a private kickoff event at Aldersgate, this production's sponsor. In the show, the residents of the Rosehaven retirement home are starting a movement to change the world for seniors. Aldersgate, a visionary senior living community, is doing much the same with its innovative programming, including its support of Lunch at the Piccadilly.

JULY 20, 2015


Casting is Complete!


Casting is complete for the new production of Lunch at the Piccadilly. Broadway and regional theatre veteran Trip Plymale (The Robber Bridegroom) returns to the show, along with favorites Greg King, Patricia L. Cucco, and the show's own composer, Mike Craver. Craver has performed in theatres all over the country, has written numerous other musicals, and is a Drama Desk Award winner for co-creating the off-Broadway hit Oil City Symphony. Theatre, film, and television veteran Rebecca Koon (Homeland, Banshee, Finding Carter) will take on the show's pivotal role of Lil Olive. Rounding out the cast are New York-based actor Mary Mossberg (Cougar the Musical) and Charlotte-based actor-singer Beau Stroupe, both appearing in the show for the first time. We're excited about the blend of 'Piccadilly' veterans and performers who are new to 'the family,' and about the new, revised script for the production, with never-heard-before songs. Watch for more information in the coming weeks.

JUNE 26, 2015


Piccadilly Gets a Facelift


The new production of Lunch at the Piccadilly will have a revised script and songs, never seen or heard before in other productions. A great group of actors gathered with the show's creators to read the script and talk about the show's development. The group included authors Clyde Edgerton, composer Mike Craver, director Steve Umberger, and actors Greg King, Patricia Cucco, Rebecca Koon, James K. Flynn, Beau Stroupe, and Susan Knowlson, along with Playworks team members Wendy Fishman, Cindy Ballaro, Karen Singleton, and Cricket Weston. (Casting for the new production will be announced in July.)

JUNE 1, 2015


Lunch at the Piccadilly Gets a New, Revised Production


Lunch at the Piccadilly will be in performance September 17 - October 4 at the Booth Playhouse, Blumenthal Performing Arts in Charlotte, N.C., with a revised script never before seen. The production is an innovative partnership with Aldersgate, a visionary senior living community, and will include education and outreach events and a symposium on senior living.


Group sales tickets are on sales now, through our Group Sales Manager Diatra Fullwood at 704-507-2369, Single tickets for the show go on sale August 1.

MAY 15, 2015


Production and outreach artists join new production team


John Coffey (Musical Director), Linda Booth (Choreographer), Bob Croghan (Scenic and Costume Designer), and Eric Winkenwerder (Lighting Designer) have joined the creative team for the new production of Lunch at the Piccadilly.


The administrative and marketing team includes Wendy Fishman (Executive Producer), Cindy Ballaro (Marketing Director), Diatra Fullwood (Group Sales Manager), and Jason Boys (Graphic Design).


The education and outreach team, led by Dr. Lyndall Hare, includes advisors Karen Singleton and Cricket Weston.

FEBRUARY 15, 2012


Lunch at the Piccadilly at the York Theatre Company, New York


Lunch at the Piccadilly concert performance at the York Theatre Company, New York. This was part of the developmental reading series at the York, which has been an incubator for many musicals including Avenue Q. It was also the New York "premiere" for Lunch at the Piccadilly.  Pictured below, from right, are composer/cast member Mike Craver, Trip Plymale, musical director Amy Jones, Patricia L. Cucco, Rebecca Koon, Greg King, Fleur Phillips, Neal Mayer, director Steve Umberger. Thanks to everyone at the York, led by producing artistic director Jim Morgan - and special thanks to Guy Barudin and Amy Jones.

Lunch at the Piccadilly at the York Theatre Company

DECEMBER 19, 2010


Musical is novel approach to Edgerton’s Lunch





In the dream — which just might be worth dreaming — churches will cease to exist. So will nursing homes.


The two institutions will be combined into "nurches," bringing together all for worship, care and fellowship, whether they reside in nurches or not.


That's how the rebellious residents of the First Breakfast Club at Rosehaven Convalescence Center envision the future. And make no mistake about it: The residents — including Lil, Clara and L. Ray Flowers, a retired preacher — intend to make their dream known across the country.


Welcome to a principal storyline in Lunch at the Piccadilly, one of Clyde Edgerton's best-selling novels. And welcome to the musical of the same name, which Festival Stage of Winston-Salem will present starting Thursday in Hanesbrands Theatre.


"This is very exciting for me, especially with it happening in Winston-Salem, not far from where I grew up (near Durham)," said Edgerton, who has written the musical's script. "I've been real lucky working with Mike and Steve."


Edgerton was referring to Mike Craver, a composer-musician who wrote the music for Lunch and will perform in it at Hanesbrands, and to Steve Umberger, the show's director and co-producer.


Bo Thorp, who serves as the artistic director of the Cape Fear Regional Theatre in Fayetteville, had a key role in giving Lunch its first legs. In the Winston-Salem production, she will play Lil, also the name of one of Edgerton's aunts. The real-life Aunt Lil entered a nursing home in 1996, and Edgerton visited her often, drawing literary inspiration from the experience.


In 2006, the first version of Lunch was staged at Cape Fear. The second version was two years later at the Parkway Playhouse in Burnsville. These previous presentations — along with numerous script drafts and what Umberger described as "lots of IHOP meetings with Clyde and Mike" — were steps in developing the show.


The creative team of Lunch hopes to interest professional and community theaters across the country. One factor that could help this happen was the decision to cut the cast from 12 to seven. "Regional professional companies … prefer smaller casts to larger casts," Craver said, adding that such shows are less expensive to produce.


But Edgerton said he wouldn't have reduced the cast if it didn't work artistically.


"I actually believe it's a stronger play," he said. "The act of cutting characters has helped (us) focus on the best elements of the play. The plot is less cumbersome or more eloquent somehow. It was a very funny play. It might be even funnier."


Edgerton stressed that the musical version focuses on what originally was one theme in the novel — the making of a community within a community.


"If you condense the whole novel, you end up with a Reader's Digest play," Edgerton said. "You have to find a short story within the novel."


Other reasons that Lunch might achieve the next level, Thorp said, was Craver's songs, which Thorp described as meaningful, honest and clever. She delighted in Edgerton's trademark humor, which also brightened such novels as "Walking Across Egypt" and "Killer Diller."


"After 2,000 years of Last Suppers, we need a First Breakfast to follow it up," Thorp said, referring to one of the show's memorable lines. "He's just the funniest man. It's so much fun to know you've got one of those big zingers coming. It's so clever."


Craver and Thorp both plugged the uplifting nature of the show and the heroic people.


"They're trying to start this (nurches) movement," Craver said. "It's a great thing, even if it never happens. Having a dream isn't the worst thing you can do. It's sure as hell a lot better than folding up your tent and submitting to depression."


In Thorp's eyes, the Rosehaven rebels exemplify how we should all lead the last chapters of our lives.


"It is the union of this (First Breakfast) club that has made them stronger and happier," she said. "They can't wait to have another meeting. It's something to look forward to. The end is there when you don't have anything else to wake up for."

Photos from past productions

DECEMBER 19, 2010


Edgerton and Umberger talk about Lunch at the Piccadilly


Hear author Clyde Edgerton and producer/director Steve Umberger talk about the show's development.




MAY 8, 2010


Edgerton play finds humor in nursing home



Special to GO TRIAD


A play set in a nursing home may sound like a downer, right?


Not in the hands of North Carolina novelist Clyde Edgerton, songwriter Mike Craver and director Steve Umberger.


The trio, who brought Edgerton’s novel Lunch at the Piccadily to the stage in 2006, have reunited for a new adaptation of the poignant and funny nursing home musical.


Festival Stage of Winston-Salem, a new professional theater company that operates in affiliation with the N.C. Shakespeare Festival, plans 18 performances through Feb. 20 at the Hanesbrands Theatre in the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts in Winston-Salem.


The play, which is part musical comedy, part drama, and the novel on which it is based arose from Edgerton’s own experiences of moving his beloved aunt into a nursing home.


“There’s a lot of Clyde (Edgerton) in this novel,” said Craver, who also performs in the musical as Eli Greyson , a mystery man whose role is pivotal to the plot.


Lunch at the Piccadily–so named for the cafeteria restaurant chain that once had locations throughout North Carolina–takes place mainly on the front porch of Rosehaven Convalescence Center in fictional Listre, N.C. The nursing home is in danger of being sold when a new resident, Lil Olive (Bo Thorp), moves in and starts rabble-rousing. She unites the residents in a scheme that will save the home.


“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,” Edgerton said. “I decided to write a nursing home novel. And I decided to write a play inspired by the novel.”


Edgerton’s novels have been adapted for stage before, but Piccadily is the first play he has scripted.


He collaborated with Craver, a Drama Desk Award winner who was a member of the Red Clay Ramblers for 12 years, on the music and lyrics. Together, they penned songs that have been characterized as irreverent and human, silly and soulful. With titles such as “How Do You Tell ’Em They Can’t Drive No More?,” “How Does a Glass Eye Work?” and “Home Is Where the Heart Stays,” the music spans a variety of styles –– blues, Broadway ballads, folk and even rap.


“This is the only musical that I know that has the words Medicare and Medicaid in the lyrics of a song,” Umberger said.


“Clyde and Mike have a really splendid way of preserving the reality of these situations” while also injecting humor, he said.


Umberger also has been instrumental in developing “Lunch at the Piccadilly” for the stage. He directed the inaugural production in 2006 in Fayetteville.


Since its debut, Lunch at the Piccadily has evolved through the response of audiences and the input of actors and others on the creative team.


The script, now in its fifth draft, includes just seven characters, far fewer than appear in Edgerton’s novel or the original stage production. The ending takes a twist that differs from the book.


Umberger, who is resident director for Festival Stage of Winston-Salem, said developing new plays is one of his favorite things because it challenges the creativity of everyone involved.


“You can’t know about a play until it’s living,” he said. “The process is fun. It calls on everybody to be their most creative selves.”

Photos from past productions

MAY 8, 2010


Lunch at the Piccadilly Gets a Second Look





It’s rare that theaters get a chance to revisit a play — but when they do, the play rarely goes on stage the same way it was the first time. Such is the case with the Cape Fear Regional Theatre’s second go at Lunch at the Piccadily.


“It’s not exactly the same show. We’re not duplicating what we had before,” explained Steve Umberger, the director of the show. “When we did it the first time, it was brand new to the stage and we got a chance to shake out the wrinkles, but there’s more to be done.”


One of the first things that needed to be done was downsizing the cast. The initial play had a fairly large cast — something that becomes a detriment in trying to get regional theaters to put it on stage. With this rendition, two characters have already been cut from the show, all in order to make the show more “produceable.”


For Umberger, that’s been a dream in the making. Since directing the first show at the CFRT, he has worked tirelessly to get the show back to the stage. The brief run at the CFRT is designed to prepare the cast for a two week run at the Parkway Playhouse in Burnsville. Umberger said the connection with the audience during the first run was the driving force behind his work to bring it back to the stage.


“There was so a strong connection with the audience,” he said. “This play touches people on so many different levels. Everybody has some stake in what the characters are going through.”


The story revolves around a group of residents in a nursing home who decide to “change the world.” Their revolution beings with the teachings of Rev. Flowers, who thinks churches and nursing homes should become one, otherwise known as nurches, to meet the needs of society. When the residents take back control of their lives, hilarity ensues.


“People get a kick out of the characters written by Clyde Edgerton (the author of the book, which spawned the play).” he continued. “They are so real. It’s a great snapshot of how people think and act.”


Leading the talented cast is the CFRT’s Artistic Director Bo Thorp. These days, Thorp spends most of her time out of the spotlight, so it is a treat for audiences when she steps onstage  — especially for Umberger. “Bo is one of the first ladies of the theater,” he said. “For some people, theater is at the core of their being, she’s one of them. She’s been doing this 45 plus years, it’s who she is in her soul — it’s not just her life, it’s her reason for being. Directing her has been such a good time. We have a common vision of the play. It’s more fun for us this time around. There’s less angst and more fun.”


For Patty Curco, a transplanted New Yorker, the revisiting of the play has given her the opportunity to reinvent her character. In the last staging, Curco was asked to come to a reading by Thorp. She thought it was a cold reading just for the director and showed up in casual clothes and no makeup. What she found was an audience. “I must be pretty good at cold readings, because I was asked to join the cast,” she said.


For that staging, she played her role fairly straight. She adopted a southern accent and tried to blend in with the group. For this staging, she sees her character as a transplant much like herself. So she’s playing her that way. “Over the past two years, I’ve thought about her a lot, and thought, why would she have to be a native-born — why couldn’t she be a transplant?”


Local audiences will have only three opportunities to see the show before it heads to the mountains. The play will open on Friday, July 25, and run through Sunday, July 27. Friday and Saturday night the show begins at 8:15. Tickets are $20. Sunday’s matinee begins at 2:15 p.m. Tickets are $15. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 323-4233.


Photos from past productions


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All Rights Reserved.


Production photos:
Donna Bise

Additional production photos:
Norris Greenlee, Bobby Moody