Mates of the Orpheum Cookbook Takes the Highlight
Orpheum Theater volunteer ushers usually show people to their seats.
But in The Cast Party, a collection of recipes from friends of the Orpheum, they show people how many teaspoons it takes to make “Cast Party Banana Pudding” and other culinary creations.
This is an updated version with additional recipes to the second edition of the book published in 2005. It contains recipes for dishes that the ushers prepare for the cast and crew of the Broadway tours at a special lunch between the matinee and the evening performances on a given day.
Part of Orpheum communications editor’s job, Kristin Bennett, is getting actors to their media appointments. It’s not uncommon for them to say something like, “Oh my god. I can’t wait for this meal. I’ve never been to Memphis, but everyone told me about this food we’re going to get, ”says Bennett.
“So it became kind of a legend on the Broadway tour. It’s just a way for them to offer Mediterranean hospitality to crews who are traveling and may not be able to get home cooked food like this. It’s unique because traveling is the only homemade meal they get on the go. So it has become something special. ”
The 346 volunteer ushers have their own organization, Friends of the Orpheum. A committee led by Elena Ross compiled the book.
What dishes are staples at dinner, either at the Broadway Club in the theater or next door at the Halloran Center, says Bennett: “It’s everything you could ever want. Fried chicken and rolls and homemade casseroles. ”
Vickie Snider’s banana pudding, featured in the book, “is the one that actors who got through earlier ask where he is. In any case, there are some staples that people expect. ”
Among other popular dishes featured in the book is the sweet potato casserole, Ross says. “Anything to do with sweet potatoes is always a great success,” she says. “The favorites are the ones with the pecans.”
Ross remembered the time when an actor walked into lunch on The Lion King and said, “Oh, my gosh. You have four different sweet potato casseroles! ”
“She was in her glory. She was so excited. Every time she went around the buffet table, she said, “Oh, they did.” And: “Oh, they have.”
Other favorites in the book include Linda Brittingham’s Tangerine Salad and Cindi Maglothin’s volunteer coordinator, Cindi Maglothin’s star-shaped jalapeño corn muffins. “Of course everyone is a star,” says Ross.
Also included is a special section called “Stage Door” where “Friends of the Orpheum restaurants in the area were kind enough to share their recipes”.
And Bear’s Catering, the catering company that also uses the Orpheum, is featured in the book, says Ross.
The cookbook also includes testimonials from actors who appeared on Orpheum shows.
Edward Staudenmayer wrote, “But after an actor has toured the city, you know that the main reason to love a stopover in Memphis is the phenomenal Usher’s meal … between shows …”
In 2017, the cookbook received an award from The Broadway League, the retail industry that produces the Tony Awards.
The last cast party dinner was March 8th for Disney’s Aladdin tour company. “That was the last meal we started the year with COVID and what that could mean,” says Bennett.
The Cast Party, a collection of recipes made by friends of the Orpheum, costs $ 20 each and is available at orpheumgiftshop.com