‘The Food of Love’ finds new ways to get creative

Phase Eight Theatre Company production provides occasion for a romantic Valentine’s at home

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Broadway theater district and other theaters around the world closed their doors in March of last year and have yet to reopen.

Since then, theater companies have gotten creative in finding ways to reimagine the classic theater productions that so many people know and love. Some companies choose live-streams, others choose pre-recordings, but for a local theater in Jacksonville, the future of their performances have taken a turn to the radio.

Phase Eight Theater Company’s 2021 production of “The Food of Love” is now solely performed as a radio-broadcast style recording, and will premier to the public on Feb. 13, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

“The Food of Love” is a modern day, queer, gourmand rendition of Edmund Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac, a tale of unrequited love in which two suitors vie for the same woman’s affection. In the original version, the main character composes poems to woo Roxanne, the woman he is in love with, but Phase Eight’s spin on the tale turns the poems into meals, which the audience eats at the same time Roxanne does.

Back in 2019 and the beginning of 2020, the production was performed at MOCA in downtown Jacksonville, where chefs from the MOCA kitchen cooked up five-course meals for audience members at the same time actors on stage were eating, but with the COVID-19 pandemic throwing a monkey wrench in production, Phase Eight was forced to halt performances.

“The biggest challenge of the 2021 version was whether or not it would actually happen,” said Andres D. Bravo, co-writer and lead actor in the show.

Bravo and fellow writer/Phase Eight member Kelby Sibbons almost completely re-wrote the show for the 2021 season, not only altering it to fit a radio broadcast format, but also to fit a new narrative following the main character (Alex aka Cyrano) being a trans-man.

Interested parties who purchase a ticket for the audio production before February 6th can select the option to receive a full five course meal coordinating with the show for the Feb. 13 broadcast, prepared by chef Wesley Nogueira of Khloe’s Kitchen. Tickets purchased for any broadcast between Feb. 13 and Feb 28 will receive detailed recipe cards, shopping lists and instructions to home cook the meals.

Theo Canty, popular YouTuber and owner of channel “Canty Cook It,” will provide video instructions for how to prepare any and all coordinating meals.

In terms of the future for Phase Eight Theater Company, it has not yet decided if productions will remain broadcasts or return to live performers.

“I think there’s a charm to both mediums,” Bravo said. “There are a lot of limitations to both, too. It creates a challenge, but that is also the fun part.”

Go to www.phaseeight.org to purchase tickets and view menu options.

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