‘Chicken and Biscuits’ Brings All the Black Joy to Broadway

Alana Raquel Bowers, Cleo King, Norm Lewis and cast during the opening night curtain call for the new play "Chicken & Biscuits" on Broadway at The Circle in the Square Theatre in New York City. Image: Bruce Glikas/WireImage

Playwright Douglas Lyons’ Chicken and Biscuits made its long-awaited debut on Sunday, Variety reports.

The synopsis of the play follows the Jenkins family as they come together to celebrate the life of their father—hopefully without killing each other. But any hopes for a peaceful reunion unravel when a family secret shows up at the funeral.”

Lyons expressed his excitement about having his life’s work become a reality on the Broadway stage.

“I am beyond thrilled to be making my Broadway playwriting debut, ten years and one block away from the very stage where I made my acting debut in The Book of Mormon,” he said. “Chicken & Biscuits is a story of love, messiness, and healing. This opportunity to bring our comedically complex Black family to the Broadway stage is a complete gift. Our batter is full of laughter, and I can’t wait to witness audiences of all backgrounds fellowshipping together. I’ll see y’all at the church—I mean, theater.”

The true brilliance of the play is that it is unapologetically Black despite the ever-present reality of the “white gaze.”

In an interview with ESPN’s The Undefeated, Lyons envisioned a celebration of Black joy that challenges the familiar tropes of Broadway and Hollywood, which often renders the Black experience invisible.

“Broadway and Hollywood love to see Black people pillaged, raped, struggling, oppressed. I’m tired of it,” he argued. “That’s not the majority of my experience growing up. We were not that. There was so much laughter and shade and food and love everywhere. And I don’t see that in the American theater. So I’m trying to bring that joy center stage.”

Not only does the play center Blackness but it makes history with Zhailon Levingston, who at 27-years-old became the youngest Black director in the history of Broadway.

Previously, Chicken and Biscuits premiered at Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadows—Corona Park, Queens. The play started performances on Feb. 28, 2020, but had to end its run after less than two weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Chicken and Biscuits is playing throughout October at the Circle In The Square Theatre, 235 W. 50th St. in New York City.

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