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Catering by...KFC?

August 7, 2001, 12:00 AM EDT

Drama Department Annual Picnic fund-raiser Greenwich House Theater, Lucille Lortel Theater Monday, 07.24.01, 7 PM onward
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There were no prestigious Glorious Food trucks outside. There were no gracious caterwaiters passing around crabcakes or seared tuna. There weren't even real plates. Instead, partygoers at the Drama Department's annual benefit ate Kentucky Fried Chicken, homemade chili and lots of chocolate chip cookies. The downtown theater group--which boasts members including Sex and the City girls Sarah Jessica Parker and Cynthia Nixon, and Strangers with Candy crackpot Amy Sedaris--is known for its homey, friendly feel (tickets typically start at $15 to see first-rate performers) and its potluck dinner and talent show fund-raiser fit that theme perfectly. It was almost an anti-benefit.

Held in the Greenwich House, the building that houses the group's headquarters and theater in addition to a preschool and community group meetings, the party was designed to feel more like a small town church social than a hoity-toity New York arts benefit. After the potluck dinner, guests walked a few blocks away to the Lucille Lortel Theatre, the Off Broadway theater on Christopher Street, where company members performed in a cabaret-style talent show. (The intimate, legendary theater also hosted another theater benefit we covered last summer.)

The event is promoted to donors as a way to mix and mingle with the Drama Department's respected group of young actors, designers, writers and directors in an ultra informal setting. (Douglas Carter Beane, the group's artistic director and playwright of its current show, Music from a Sparkling Planet, wore shorts.) For food, members brought homemade (or store-bought) food, and tiny cards told guests who made each dish--a fun touch for the attendees who get to rub elbows with the folks they see on the group's stage. It's not the typical approach, but potluck-from-the-stars theme is an idea a clever planner could consider emulating.

Food donations also came from other volunteers--Creative Edge Parties' Liz Seccuro donated enough chopped vegetable salad for 200, plus votive candles, serving items and paper goods.

One highlight on both the performing and cooking fronts: B. D. Wong delivered a very abridged, very impassioned version of the Noel Coward musical The Coconut Girl (playing all the parts) and made a crowd-pleasing lasagna.

--Chad Kaydo

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