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The most memorable meals from musicals and theatre

trending Jun 10, 2020

This article was brought to you in partnership with Marley Spoon.

As the playwright George Bernard Shaw once wrote, 'there is no love sincerer than the love of food'. The writers and lyricists of the musicals and plays listed here wouldn't disagree – they use food onstage to bring people together, for humour and occasionally, for revenge. In this list, we round up the dishes that linger in your mind long after you've exited the theatre.

'Food Glorious Food' from Oliver!

The orphans' longing is palpable when they sing about 'hot sausage and mustard' and 'cold jelly and custard' while gruel is slopped into their bowls. To add to the insult, they have to endure the sight of the platters of meat and sides that are served to the governor; their own watery dish is meagre and unappealing. Despite that, it gave birth to one of the most famous phrases in theatre: 'please sir, I want some more.'

'Be Our Guest' from Beauty and the Beast

It's not every day that your dinner comes complete with anthropomorphic dishes that are your waiters, servingware and entertainment ('they can sing, they can dance' says Lumière). Add to that a parade of soup du jour, hot hors d'oeuvres, beef ragout, cheese souffle and pie and pudding 'en flambe' and it's no wonder that Belle couldn't eat another bite after dipping a finger into each dish.

The Cratchits' Christmas dinner from A Christmas Carol

It isn't the food at the table but the joy of family and the comfort of love that makes this Christmas dinner a success. In Charles Dickens' novel, while he mentions the goose's 'size and cheapness' as well as the accompanying apple sauce and mashed potatoes, it's Tiny Tim's proclamation of 'God bless us every one!' that touches Scrooge. And watching this familial scene with the Ghost of Christmas Present, the miserly grouch repents of his 'bah, humbug' ways.

As a stage production, Dickens' classic has been performed regularly around the world; an original musical stage adaptation by Tim Dietlein celebrated 50 years of consecutive shows in 2015.

Image: The Muppet Christmas Carol

'A Little Priest' from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber from Fleet Street

Macabre yet grimly funny – who can forget when Mrs Lovett places a pie, fresh out of the oven, on the counter top and announces, 'it's priest. Have a little priest'? The ensuing discussion about the taste and quality of bishops and lawyers versus royal marines or grocers as the primary pie ingredient is quintessential black comedy.

'Suppertime' from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown

You wouldn't think a bowl of dog food could inspire a musical number. Well, it can, if you're Snoopy. The melancholic chords that introduce the song, accompanied by the beagle's running commentary about becoming 'a withering, hollow shell of a dog', turn into delighted yodels about 'sup-sup suppertime very best time of day.'

As Snoopy says, 'So what's wrong with making mealtime a joyous occasion?'

Based on Charles Schulz's Peanuts characters, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown debuted on stage in 1967.

The calf from The Beast

Eddie Perfect's satire The Beast features a veritable bloodbath on stage and pokes fun at 21st century urbanites seeking to live a more authentic, sustainable life. Three middle-class couples plan a nose-to-tail dinner party, complete with live cow to be butchered in front of them. When the butcher fails to appear, the characters need to decide how to proceed.

Act V Scene III from Titus Andronicus

Grim and vengeful, this is arguably one of the most confronting scenes in Shakespeare's plays. To avenge his daughter, Titus Andronicus kills two men and feeds their heads, baked into a pie, to their mother. Dinner, anyone?

The Mad Hatter's tea party from Alice in Wonderland

Although Alice in Wonderland was first adapted into a musical pantomime in the late 19th century and has been staged around the world, it's probably the Disney version you're most familiar with. An unbirthday celebration, a sleeping mouse in a teapot and pink cake that explodes into fireworks makes this one unforgettable.

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Catherine Mah

Catherine likes to run, eat and read but not simultaneously. If you can't find her doing these things, she's most likely sleeping.