Lunch Girls

by  Leigh Curran

Full Length Play, Dramatic Comedy  /  3m, 7f

"A bold and brittle comedy with undertones of pathos...An engrossing psychological study." - Branford Review

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    3m, 7f
  • Duration


    120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre


    Period, Docudrama/Historic
  • Suggested Use

    Suggested Use

    • Scene work
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult

Additional Info

The 'lunch girls' are waitresses in an all male key club in 1969. Each is a fascinating individual who copes with the fundamental problem of becoming her own woman while being a male fantasy figure. The first and third acts take place in the locker room of the key club where the girls change in and out of their scanty costumes, deepen friendships and compete for the best customers. In the second act, the scene shifts to the kitchen. The girls whisk in and out placing and picking up orders while interacting with a chef who plays favorites and struggling to remain sexually applealing while carrying heavy trays in spike heels.  By the end of the play Clare has woken up to the insanity that has become her life and is able to move on.
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"Miss Curran has a sharp eye. There is an air of unvarnished authenticity about The Lunch Girls that makes it an auspicious debut for a new playwright" - The New York Times

"Leigh Curran has moxie and that can't be taught.  - it jumps and sizzles like fat on a fire." - Newsweek

"Leigh Curran is blessed with a keen comic sense and there are moments of unparalleled humor." - Waterbury American

"Miss Curran's instincts as an actress serve her well as a playwright.  The world of the key club, circa 1969 - with the girls peeling out of their field jackets and sheepskin coats, sprinkling silver dust on their hair, and shoehorning themselves into black stockings, taffeta corsets and vapid roles is a pungent entertainment spiced by the implicit irony that the girls deny their avoidance of reality just as vigorously as their customers do." - The Detroit News

"Leigh Curran knows her material and is able to create seven distinct personalities." - New Haven Register

"A bold and brittle comedy with undertones of pathos...An engrossing psychological study." - Branford Review


Performing Groups

  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Large Stage
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups


  • Caution Alcohol Alcohol
  • Caution Drugs Drugs
  • Caution Intense Adult Intense Adult Themes
  • Caution Strong Language Strong Language
  • Caution Nudity Nudity/Partial Nudity
  • Caution Open Flame Open Flame
  • Caution Smoking Smoking

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $90 per performance



  • Time Period: 1970s, 1960s
  • Duration: 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting: A grungy locker room - the more compact the better - battered lockers along three walls, a bench to sit on, and a door leading to the bathroom. Then, a kitchen while lunch is being served. Food can be actual, fake, or mimed depending on the production. At its simplest, the kitchen has a stove, food preparation counter, and a pick up station where the waitresses place their orders and pick them up when they are ready. The girls wear the equivalent of bunny costumes but with a gay nineties feel.
  • Additional Features: Physical Comedy
  • Features / Contains: Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes, Fantasy Costumes


  • Musical Style: N/A (Not a musical)
  • Vocal Demands: N/A (Not a musical)


3m, 7f

CLARE - early 30s; belongs on a farm raising her own food but, because of her husband's some time music career, she is living in New York City.  She is responsible, serious, deep thinking, and afraid to make the changes she knows she needs to make because she also knows she will lose everything.
KATE - early 20s, is a flat chested tomboy with a great sense of humor, a love for life, and a propensity for putting it all into words. She works as a waitress to pay for her acting and singing lessons - it is totally a means to an end but she gets swept up in it nonetheless - hoping for friendships with people she wants to understand.
CHARLENE - late 20s-early 30s, is a beauty in the prime of her life.  She married an wealthy man who ended up in jail for extortion but not before Charlene had a baby by him. She is the waitress all the men ask for and while it's illegal to date customers, she does it discreetly and gets away with it.  Her ex keeps tabs on her from jail - she is determined to get a new man in her life even if he's married.
DANUSHA - 20s, is single, pregnant, and way too spiritual for her own good.  She comes from nothing and has nothing but her ideals.  She is barely holding it together but is too proud to ask for help.  She speaks the truth accidentally.
VICKY - late 20s-early 30s, is tough and really sad underneath.  She resents raising her two kids on her own - feels really trapped.  She is cronically late, lies, swears, and gets into fixes that require desperate measures to get out of.  You definitely know when she's in the room.
RHONDA - 20s, is a waif with a heart of steel.  She enjoys being in the power position and will manipulate whoever she needs to manipulate in order to get there.  She is the cigarette girl so she moves freely throughout the club - has the best idea of the big picture.  For Rhonda, taking advantage of people is sport.
EDIE - 18-21, is the new girl in town.  She has lead a sheltered life somewhere in the midwest and has come to New York for a change.  More than likely she will return home, marry her childhood sweetheart, and have a lot of kids.  But for now she's seeing a side of life she's never seen before and fully intending to make the best of it.
CHEF - 40's-60's is French but he's lived in New York for a long time trying to make it in the restaurant business.  The kitchen is his kingdom - you play by the rules.  He will bend them for the girls who are beautiful.  He has no tolerance for girls who don't pick up and order in a timely fashion. He will threaten girls with the cutlery if they don't do as he says.  The Chef's nephew, Henri, works alongside him and, were he not a family member, the Chef would have fired him long ago.
HENRI - 20's-40s, is the Chef's nephew and an alcholic.
JESUS - 20's, is the busboy.  He is Latin, learning English and at the beginning of making his way in the world.  He has a good heart.

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Cast Attributes

  • Ensemble cast
  • Non-Traditional casting
  • Flexible casting
  • Multicultural casting
  • Room for Extras
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)

Casting Notes

The waitresses are in their 20s and 30s and can be played by any ethnicity. The important thing to remember is these girls (except for Charlene who needs a day job) are not as beautiful as the Night Girls who serve cocktails, entertain in the club's speakeasy, and are paid to be glamorous. The Lunch Girls are strong - they have to be because they carry heavy trays of food up and down flights of stairs in spike heels. In their case, beauty follows function. The chef is French and in the middle of his life. His assistant, also French, is younger. The busboy can be any ethnicity - the important point is that there are some language barriers between the waitresses and the men in the kitchen.



Leigh Curran

Leigh Curran is the author of three full length plays - The Lunch Girls, Alterations (both published by Samuel French), and Walking the Blonde - and has also written countless one-acts, the latest of which was produced in Los Angeles at The Edye in 2012. The Lunch Girls had its world premiere at The Long Wharf Theatre ...

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Lunch Girls received its world premiere at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, CT, on November 17, 1977. It was directed by Arvin Brown.

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