Archive for Thursday, December 30, 1999


December 30, 1999


An organization that supports University Theatre has published a cookbook containing recipes from Kansas University theater alumni and Lawrence chefs and restaurants.

For 75 years University Theatre has entertained the Lawrence community.

From "The Devil's Disciple" in 1923-'24 to "The Suicide" last month, the Kansas University-based theater has brought Broadway musicals, Shakespearean plays, children's plays, dramas, comedies, experimental productions and Japanese theater to its stages.

And since 1979, Friends of the Theatre (FROTH) has been there to plan and organize pre-show dinners and receptions and raise money for equipment and scholarships.

So three years ago when FROTH members began talking about a fund-raising project they were reminded of what the theater and the group do best -- entertain.

The result is "Let Us Entertain You," a 231-page cookbook that contains a variety of recipes submitted by KU theater alumni and text that is fun to read in its own right. The cookbook contains informal histories of University Theatre and FROTH and an index of University Theatre productions.

"We thought a cookbook would be nice as an ongoing fund-raiser," Marie Willis, chair of the FROTH cookbook committee, said.

The first thing to do, she said, was to gather recipes from alumni. Recipes were submitted by about 25 alums, including Joyce Castle, a mezzo-soprano who performs with the Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Opera; Mike Robe, a Los Angeles film producer, writer and director; professional costumer Elle Patton; New York City playwright Catherine Rogers; Ron Parker, a screen writer and producer living in Los Angeles; Laura Kirk, a New York City actress and writer; and James Still, an actor, writer and director living in Los Angeles.

"An early idea was to test and screen the recipes," cookbook committee member Molly Mulloy said.

So the recipes were sent to people who were to prepare, taste and rate the dishes. Only those with the highest ratings were included. In addition, recipes created by some of Lawrence's most popular chefs and restaurants were added.

"These are really good recipes," Mulloy emphasized.

Some of Mulloy's favorites are Bavarian Apple Torte; Pat's Scones, submitted by Community Mercantile; and Paradise Spinach Enchiladas, submitted by Paradise Cafe chef LeAnn Ward. Willis lists among her favorites South African Bobotie, a curried meatloaf with apples, bananas, apricots, raisins and almonds, and Indian Fried Potatoes with ginger and garlic.

Mary Kate Ambler, another committee member, said she was fond of Deep South Sweet Potato Souffle, Pasta with Pears and Gorgonzola Cream Sauce and Roast Pork Buffet Sandwiches, which serves 15 to 20 people.

"There are recipes for large groups. These are very hard to find these days," Ambler said. "It's hard to find recipes for 12 people, let alone 30 or 40."

Accompanying many of the recipes are comments from George and Georgina Spelvin, who are well-known to theatergoers. George Spelvin is a fictitious name that has been used in cast lists to cover doubling since 1886. The name also has been given to dead bodies, animal actors and dolls being used as babies.

So when the cookbook organizers wanted to make comments about the recipes or give hints on variations, the words come from the mouth of George or his wife, Georgina.

For example, alongside the South African Bobotie is "George Spelvin insists on having mashed potatoes with his bobotie and cranberry chutney" and alongside Chicken Enchilada Casserole is "George Spelvin knows it's not authentic but he sometimes uses flour tortillas in place of corn. The Spelvins love this dish either way."

"We wanted (the cookbook) to be not just for FROTH members but for a wide-range appeal," Willis said. " " We think this book will become a collectible."

Only 1,000 copies of the hardcover, spiral-bound cookbook were printed. If they sell at full price, FROTH will raise $8,000.

"It has grown from being a fund-raiser to being something to share with other people," Ambler said.

"Theater itself is a cooperative adventure and we tried to keep that spirit," Willis added. " " We thought of it as our gift to University Theatre."

"Let Us Entertain You" is available at the Murphy Hall Box Office, Weaver's, Borders and The Bay Leaf in Lawrence and Discoveries in Baldwin.

"We anticipate many printings," Mulloy said.

-- Jan Biles' phone message number is 832-7146. Her e-mail address is

Commenting has been disabled for this item.