The Big Meal

by Dan LeFranc
Directed by Jocelyn A. Brown

Awards and Recognition

  • WINNER! Outstanding Playwright Award New York Times
  • NOMINEE! Outstanding Play Lucille Lortel Award
  • So Cal Premiere

FIVE SHOWS ADDED — May 6, 13 & 20 at 8pm; May 15 & 22 at 7pm


The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary Family

In this hilarious and poignant Southern California premiere, you are invited on a time-bending odyssey of birth, death, divorce and dinner. When a man meets a young waitress in a local diner, neither of them knows the nearly 80 years of history that will follow. Filled with those little moments that you will recognize from your own life, we dare you not to fall in love with this stunning, big-hearted play that tells the extraordinary story of an ordinary family.

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Scott & Sandra Graham
SEASON PRODUCERS Bette & Wylie Aitken


“Dan LeFranc’s remarkable meditation on birth, death, life, love, and the whole damn thing, now getting a laughter-and-tear-filled Southern California Premiere that is one of Chance Theater’s finest intimate productions”
— StageSceneLA

Articles & Reviews

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Audience Buzz

    1. Love the intimacy of being close in a small theater.

      — Tina
    2. Had never heard of the Chance Theater before and am so happy to have discovered it, especially for kids. This was a Wonderful production. Cast was great and loved that all of the kids were invited up onto the stage after the production. Only wish – assigned seating.

      — Anonymous
    3. Most exciting show I’ve seen at the Chance for the past year!!! Great choice of material, a very unusual performance premise, but that made for my total attention and engagement in the show. The performers were *stellar,* every one. I am still thinking about the structure of this play and the amazing ways in which the cast members mastered it. Should win the Chance a passel of prizes!! Thanks!!!!

      — Nora Jacob
    4. All of the actors were excellent. Would highly recommend!!!

      — T Ross
    5. “Fun Performance. Well written play, excellent acting. Karen Webster was outstanding. I really enjoyed the real life drama with some humor. I like the shorter length with no intermission. I was fully immersed in the story from beginning to end. Your theater is beautiful, the staff is great. Thank you Chance Theater! I loved the consistency of same waitress 🙂 The underlying humor. The kids were awesome. All the conversations seemed so real.

      — Anonymous
    6. WoW! What a wonderful and moving production, left me pondering my future (short as it no doubt is), as well as watching what could well be my own family drama on the road to the present.

      — tom hamman
    7. Professional, incredible, captivating, thought provoking. So much to appreciate..need to see it more than once.

      — Dr. Joel Soburn
    8. one of the best plays I have seen in a long time. very creative and entertaining with good acting

      — keith kusunis
    9. Loved the play

      — Anonymous
    10. We loved it! So true to life. I laughed and teared up. The teenager was spot-on.

      — Marsha Lindsey
    11. Loved it. My favorite production I’ve been to. Out of 6

      — Anonymous
    12. The show was great. Wonderful cast and very entertaining story. The actors were a tight unit.

      — Wayne Hundley
    13. I thought the 2 youngest actors were stellar

      — Tami Mehlbrandt
    14. Very entertaining. The quick time change by the actors was amazing & really kept your attention & involvement. Thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

      — Jane
    15. The Big Meal resonated with me on many levels. It definitely made me reflect on my life and many family meals. The cast was outstanding and the narrative, changing characters all flowed seamlessly.

      — Leslie Brown
    16. Totally not what I thought it was going to be. Started out a bit slow, but I ended up really liking it. The performers were fabulous. Lots of talent there.

      — Rita Schrank
    17. I could identify with the chaos of kids in the restaurant playing while adults argue back and forth. Also, the deaths of individual characters, happening at an ordinary meal, reminded me of the preciousness of life. Finally, I felt enriched by the post-performance discussion (unique script, memorizing of lines, actors playing several different characters).

      — Anonymous
    18. Overall very powerful play. Excellent performances. Personally gripping…to tears.

      — Anonymous
    19. Having seen this show twice now, what stands out is how relatable this show is. No matter what your cultural background or upbringing there’s something that everyone can relate to, even if you don’t expect to. I felt like everyone in the audience could relate to at least one of the characters at any point in the lives unfolding on stage. This is definitely a show to see at least twice, since you catch something new each time you see it.

      — Sarah DuVal
    20. I’ve never seen a play staged like this one. Great idea. The little nuances like the watch and necklace kept the audience in touch with the character as they grew, though I wasn’t certain what the solo nibbling on the food meant.

      — Jack Day
    21. very emotional; exceptional performances

      — lynda wheeler
    22. The individual meals and the passing away of the characters was very emotional

      — Wenzel Likness
    23. The play was performed in a very professional way, all of the actors were excellent

      — Anonymous
    24. We found the play to be quite unique in structure. Very enjoyable.

      — Mary Sampson
    25. Liked the limited cast playing multiple roles. Really emphasized the continuity of life.

      — Anonymous
    26. The performances were stellar, particularly the children. The server stole the show.

      — Terri Elders
    27. It was a very provocative play and we enjoyed it. The cast was excellent

      — Dave and Karen Runnion
    28. I was surprised how moved I was by the play as a whole. The Chance team has put something special together here.

      — Anonymous
    29. lovely show – a gentle and humorous walk through a life of shared meals

      — Anonymous
    30. The play demonstrated powerfully so many aspects of the key moments of a family’s lifetime arc and the emotions they evoke

      — Anonymous
    31. I was thoroughly impressed with the flexibility of the performers play so many parts. AWESOME. I thought ALL of the performers did outstanding in every person they portrayed & I especially admire the 2 talented children; they were incredible!

      — Anonymous
    32. Very powerful play – I loved it! Very unpredictable storyline. It should get more exposure – outstanding 4 generation cast.

      — Nancy Tallman
    33. This is an outstanding production. Exceptional script – a very clever vehicle to examine family dynamics.

      — Michael Stull
    34. Great emotions, very real, the challenges of life portrayed through one couple, great idea.

      — Anonymous
    35. The play was excellent. The writing was superb and the acting was outstanding. Each age group of actors played their role with intensity and were believable. We brought a family member who was very impressed with the production.

      Being a senior citizen, I have experienced the many passages of family life. The conflicts and celebrations were all too real. Yet the depth of love and commitment shows through in the worst of situations.

      Thank you for a terrific night.

      — John Embree
    36. The ensemble work was fantastic, given the shifting roles and often simultaneous dialogue.

      — Branton Lachman
    37. Wonderful ensemble, good chemistry

      — Anonymous
    38. Just a darn near perfect performance

      — Gordon Braun
    39. I really enjoyed the play as one of my favorites in the last couple of years

      — Anonymous
    40. The transition the actors made from one character to the next was amazing. Small costume changes / props / and the actor’s dialogue made the play easy to follow. I looked forward to the next character changes. And who would get the next plate of real food.

      — Larry Otte
    41. The show was very well done. We really enjoyed it.

      — Jennifer DePaola

Venue Bette Aitken theater arts Center

Bette Aitken theater arts Center
5522 E. La Palma Ave.
Anaheim, CA  92807
More Information Get Directions
Venue Amenities
  • Full-Service Bar
  • Free Parking
  • Conveniently Located

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At a Glance

Approximate Running Time:
1 hour, 30 minutes with no intermissions
Special Notes:
  • On the Fyda-Mar Stage
  • Contains strong language
  • Post-show discussions after each performance (except Opening)
  • Open seating. Subscribe for assigned seats.
  • "Salon" on Sun, May 1 at 3pm... Arrive at 2:15pm and stay after the show for 2 specially hosted discussions with the artists.
  • $15 Rush Tix available 1 hour prior to the performance. Cash only. Subject to availability.
  • 40% off for Groups of 10 or more... plus assigned seating. Visit