NYC

It’s Showtime! How Broadway Does Thanksgiving

11.07.19

BY: ELIZABETH DURAND STREISAND / ILLUSTRATION BY: CHELSEY HILL

It’s that time of year again! Time to eat and drink and travel… unless you’re a Broadway star, that is. While the rest of us gear up for time off, Broadway gets ready for the busiest time of year. With eight shows a week and little to no break, Broadway performers have to get creative when it comes to celebrating the holidays. We caught up with seven of our favorite stars to find out how they’ll celebrate Thanksgiving this year and why you better wash your pajamas ahead of time.

Kevin James, The Illusionists

“I love to play and experiment in the kitchen,” says Kevin James from The Illusionists. “I almost always get a turkey about a month early and make a big Thanksgiving dinner — for me it is so much fun. I always wanted to go to formal culinary school, not to do as a profession but to just make amazing things for friends and family. It’s hard to cook when I am on the road, so cooking in my own kitchen is truly one of the things I miss most when I am on tour. I love big family dinners.”

Ryan Knowles, The Lightning Thief

“My best friend has a tradition of having an expat Thanksgiving feast for all us not out-of-town,” Ryan Knowles, who plays Chiron in The Lightning Thief, shares. “It’s a fun potluck with lots of friends and indigestion!”

Chris Giarmo, David Byrne’s American Utopia

“I definitely don’t celebrate Thanksgiving the way I used to,” reveals Chris Giarmo from David Byrne’s American Utopia. “Yes, I plan on spending the day with my family (I might even bake a pie if I have time), focusing on being together and grateful for all we have, but part of that is accepting how fortunate I am because I’m a white cis man. Indigenous people in our country are the survivors of systemic racism, institutional discrimination, and genocide. To celebrate Thanksgiving without acknowledging our sordid past as nation, as well as the incredible work indigenous people do at the frontlines of environmental activism would be remiss.” Giarmo adds, “In my current home-state of Louisiana, a group of water protectors called L’eau Est La Vie Camp is fighting to protect the precious Mississippi Delta from devastation by the oil and gas industry. You can find them, and other indigenous environmentalist groups like them, on social media, and they really need your support.”

Rick Younger, Mean Girls

Baltimore or bust! Rick Younger, who plays Mr. Duvall in Mean Girls, leaves the kids at home (well, kind of). “Fortunately, I’m originally from Baltimore, MD so I’m only a few hours away from my family. I’m able to drive down to Baltimore spend some time with family, leave my kids there for the weekend, and go back to do the show.”

James Davis, Oklahoma!

Some of the best celebrations don’t require leaving the house. Just ask James Davis. “It will most likely be me and boyfriend and our cat for the morning. Sleeping in. Drinking coffee,” the Oklahoma! star reveals. The couple will get out eventually, though. We’ll make a “Thanksgiving side dish then bringing it to a friend’s place who is having a small gathering in a small cozy apartment kitchen,” Davis adds. “I’ve made a good sausage stuffing the last few years.”

Richard Thomas, The Great Society

Richard Thomas, who plays Hubert Humphrey in The Great Society, is quite the party host! “Georgiana and I have dinner at home, with whatever configuration of our seven grown children are able to be there,” he explains. “We entertain anywhere from eight to twenty-four guests—many of whom return over the years. We make my maternal grandfather’s turkey recipe, and his special stuffing and strong giblet gravy. Homemade cranberry sauce, rotating sweet potato recipes and a seasonal salad. Dessert is brought by friends. The wine is American, as is the music on the stereo. We’re grateful for the blessings and the people in our lives.”

Sharon Wheatley, Come From Away

“I will cook a late afternoon feast for my kids and my wife and probably a few other friends or family members (whomever shows up, we have a big table!),” Come From Aways Sharon Wheately shares. “The Thanksgiving theme in my house is comfort. We throw a Pajama Thanksgiving, and the only rule is you need to be clean and the pajamas need to be clean. That way we can move straight from the eating phase to the board game phase, which is how we roll over here. I’m lucky to not have a show on Thanksgiving this year so we will probably only leave the house to run over to the parade. We light a lot of candles and play all night. It’s very fun and not at all stuffy.”

Is a trip to Broadway in your Thanksgiving plans? Every show on Broadway is in play at Broadway Roulette!

A version of this story first appeared in W42St magazine. Sign up for their weekly newsletter here!