‘Chicken & Biscuits’ is joyful, humorous, family-oriented


by Genea L. Webb

For New Pittsburgh Courier

Get ready to experience a roller coaster of emotions from laughter to tears and everything in between when New Horizon Theater Inc, serves up “Chicken & Biscuits.”

“It’s a piece that deals with family dynamics and the kind of journey that families take when someone that they love—especially in this because the deceased is the patriarch of the family and he was the pastor at the church that the family and the community belonged to,” said Eileen J. Morris, the director of the production. “So there’s long-term family ties with the community, ties with how this family was perceived and how people looked at them and that’s one of the beauties of this play. It deals with legacy, history and then the father passes. But he has impacted everybody in his family—he’s impacted his two daughters, he’s impacted his grandchildren because he really was sensitive to them and their needs and what they wanted to do in their life. He loved chicken and biscuits and he thought he could cook it but he really couldn’t.”


Written and produced by actor and playwright Douglas Lyons, “Chicken & Biscuits” was performed on Broadway in 2021 for four months before being cut because of COVID-19. It has been one of the most produced plays of this year in different theaters throughout the country.

It tells the story of the Jenkins family and a gathering that starts to unfurl when the father passes away and secrets are revealed at his funeral. New Horizon Theater Inc., Chairperson Joyce Meggerson-Moore hopes this play, which will run for 20 performances, will make a splash for audiences. It will run from May 25 to June 18 at the Vernell Audrey Watson Lillie Theatre on the City Theatre campus, 1300 Bingham St., South Side. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m. with 3 p.m. shows on Saturday and Sunday. 3 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by visiting newhorizontheater.org, at Dorsey’s Digital Imaging on Frankstown Avenue, or by calling 412-431-0773. 

“That’s exciting for all of us who have worked with Dr. Lillie to be performing this play in the theater that is named after her. That’s hugely exciting because she loved Black people, she loved the theater, she loved human experiences and she was a mentor and a supporter of all of that,” Morris said.

New beginnings, love interest, a sibling rivalry and how families deal at a time when a patriarch and matriarch passes are some of the themes touched on in this 90-minute production.

“Every time we do a play, the thing Joyce and I talk about is how does it affect our community? What does the community get out of it? How can they relate to it? This time of year, we love doing some kind of musical or comedy, but it’s always something that gives food for thought that takes us on a different journey,” Morris said.

“This play is so funny because you think things are going to be one way how you plan it out…but there’s always something that upsets the apple cart and it veers another way,” Morris added. “Why? Because human beings are going to be human beings. The play deals with how families are like the auntie or uncle that thinks that they are all of that and a bag of chips. They think they’re the sexiest thing living…there’s somebody that’s reserved and they just want to follow the rules and they don’t understand why everybody else doesn’t just follow the rules; there’s always somebody who kind of turns the tide. So, the different dynamics affect everybody but they all come together because of the love. The love carries them and protects them always.”

Many of the familiar faces from other New Horizon Theater productions will be performing in “Chicken & Biscuits.” Actors in the play are: Tajionna Clinton, Rita Gregory, Sheldon Ingram, Mils “M.J.” James, Karla C. Payne, Shakira Stephens, Angelique A. Strothers, and Cole Vecchio.

The play also deals with the unpleasant subject of death. But both Morrison and Meggerson-Moore believe it will resonate with the audience.

“This is a family whose legacy and platform is ingrained in spirituality,” Morris said. “God is an important part of their life. The play has that spiritual perspective, it has a human perspective and we, the audience, get to experience all those elements and be joyful in how that affects us.”




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