New York | 1h 30m | Already closed

Babette’s Feast

From 21 critic and 64 member reviews
Members say: Clever, Great acting, Great staging, Entertaining, Absorbing

About the show

Based on the short story (and made famous by the 1987 Oscar-winning film), this drama tells the story of Babette, a French refugee in Norway, who throws a lavish feast that becomes an agent of transformative grace. More…

'Babette’s Feast' is a bundle of exciting contradictions: stark and lush, stunning and austere, mysterious and comic. Further, it is timely with a twist: 'Babette's Feast' highlights the plight of a refugee seeking asylum, who through her munificence creates a lavish feast that becomes an abundant experience of forgiveness and connection, healing the fractured community. A story that shows how embracing the stranger changes a community for the better.

1h 30m | Already closed | Theatre at St. Clement's (Midtown W)


"Like the original story, the stage adaptation of Dinesen's 'Babette's Feast' is one of grace and renewal. While it is demanding and challenging in the way that theater used to be before expensive sets and costumes left nothing to the imagination, its rewards are great. Directed by Karin Coonrod, the nine member cast turns this into a magical theatrical presentation that you will not soon forget." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Rose Courtney's amiable stage adaptation [of] 'Babette's Feast' is rife with religiously oriented themes-guilt, suffering, resignation, vanity, mercy, and the like-but their emotional impact tends to be vitiated by the performance style, which dominates the experience. While some may come away moved, others will remember the production mainly for the tang of its presentation. Either way, there's much to be digested from this hour and a half of artistically tasteful gastro-drama." Full Review

Motherhood Later

"The story itself whets one’s appetite. The setting of the play—brilliantly housed in a Church that is also a Theater, suits the story perfectly...Wonderful cast...The sisters and the other diners have been given a gift. This production leaves the viewer richer as well, and reminds us to graciously accept the gifts of others, for the acceptance of a gift freely given, elevates both the giver and receiver." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"While not giving up an ounce of theatricality, this creation is both beautifully intimate and compellingly open...The direction and the choreography of movement is precise and dramatic, keeping us forever engaged and aware of every shuffle and aroma that exists in the flavor of this small town...Although sometimes a bit slow and meandering, even in its whimsical nature, this meal shouldn’t be rushed and its servers should never be chastised for taking their time delivering it." Full Review

Woman Around Town

"This imaginative, stylized dramatization of 'Babette’s Feast' is rather magical...Director Karin Coonrod does a splendid job choreographing movement and sound that illuminates the story and sustains atmosphere...Caveats: Incidental players might be tamped down a bit to better preserve the play’s tenor. Mugging-for-humor is inappropriate and unnecessary." Full Review

Manhattan Digest

"Thanks to clever staging and Coonrod's respect for audience intelligence, one feels as though a sumptuous meal has been enjoyed without the consumption of a single calorie...Much Christian symbolism can be found in this story of selflessness and sacrifice...Coonrod's cast of nine all work efficiently and effectively to render a quiet, but immensely powerful tale that teaches us how to receive unexpected generosity with open hands and hearts...An unexpected gift to theatergoers." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Employing a range of story-theatre techniques and hewing closely to Dinesen's short story, the production offers a gentle reminder of a shared humanity in our own trying times...The outstanding nine-person ensemble makes one almost forget the excellent film adaption...The play feels a tad overcooked, particularly in some of the earlier sections. Still, there is much to savor from the performances under Karin Coonrod's resourceful and often highly inventive direction." Full Review

The Playfixer

"Conrood has employed a very inventive non-realistic approach, in which the actors mime the props and play both male and female roles, in Botez' all-black costumes, which look Jacobean, giving the town the look of a place that time forgot...The actors are all superb, particularly Hurst, who invests Babette with a quiet dignity." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"The dramatic adaption is particularly well cast, with nine actors in total...The limited troupe benefits the play in permitting things to flow quite smoothly...Courtney is to be praised for the succinct script that stays true to the essence of the original short story...Direction by Coonrod is impressive...Overall, the play is short, sweet, and endearing. The creative team’s unflinching efforts pay off, and to view the show is an experience worth having." Full Review


"Nearly as simple and spare as the lives of the fanatical sectarians in Dinesen's story...The playwrights have elected to steer clear of realism and any semblance of the visual extravagance associated with Axel's film...While 'Babette's Feast' has a number of highly dramatic moments, the playwrights' reverence for Dinesen's words has led them merely to tell much of the story, using descriptive passages from the original, rather than really staging it." Full Review


"An example of low-tech stagecraft elevated with imagination and enthusiasm by a company of nine skilled actors...It’s an affecting story, tying together several motifs – the passion of the artist, the goodness that can from the stranger in our midst, and the unpredictable human connections that can shape our lives...This version of 'Babette’s Feast' may not satisfy completely your appetite for soul-grabbing drama, but it certainly provides a stage filled with well-prepared small plates." Full Review

Reflections in the Light

"An exquisite and tasteful staging of the New York premier...serves up this week's Easter message of love and grace...Director Karin Coonrod expertly moves actors a few steps to create a change of scene...Employs a minimalist technique, having the actors pantomime most of the props depicted, resorting to the real things only for the feast...The feast is a bit disappointing and doesn't seem all that different from the bland and subdued life that preceded it." Full Review

Off Off Online

"Time moves back and forth beautifully to tell the story...Aoki moves the actors around to highlight individual characters as well as create a tightly knit ensemble...But the simple set and staging often leave the marvelous and lively actors stranded...The singing and sound-making create a soundtrack that enlivens the production. The multicultural cast, who play not only young and old but interchange male and female roles, also adds a rich texture that challenges casting norms." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"A distinctly theatrical dish...It may not be to everyone's taste...Presented in classic story-theatre style, with each member of the company stepping forward to relate part of the narrative...There are several sequences of stylized movement. All of this is executed with precision...A loving and faithful rendition of the original story...This production's overtly theatrical storytelling devices collide with Dinesen's story, with a slightly coarsening effect." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"It is, of course, not very possible to do on stage what can be shown on film with respect to the creation of a mouth-watering feast. What does come across effectively in this production is the religious austerity of the 19th century Protestant community...Despite all of the effort, the sensuousness so essential to the concept is not there on stage as it was on film even though the production is very faithful to Dinesen. But credit the company with a worthy try that holds our interest." Full Review

The New York Times

"There is a certain elegance to Ms. Coonrod’s decision to let audience members flex their imaginations...But as it is, the revelatory repast feels undercooked...Some of the scenes also fall flat, as when the ensemble vocalizes sound effects while Babette prepares her feast...The feast is about destiny and art, and the joy of living in the now rather than sacrificing for the hereafter...The show tries valiantly to suggest all this, but alas, does not quite succeed." Full Review


"Coonrod charts a radically different course in her production, with presentational ensemble acting reminiscent of commedia dell'arte, Brecht, and (most distressingly) children's pantomime. That tack may have seemed appropriate for a story front-loaded with exposition...Unfortunately, this story about the bonds that can be forged (or rekindled) over a great meal is hard to grasp when everyone is holding their characters at arm's length. The form just doesn't fit the content." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"It falls into overwrought pretention and flat theatrics...There is a lot to work with here socially, emotionally and religiously. Unfortunately, this production does not tackle any of those things. Stylistically, it focuses on poetic presentational language, creative sound design, and has ignored character development, emotional connection, or social context...It’s hard to critique the acting when the direction is so heavy-handed and difficult to see past." Full Review

Theater Time

"It is still difficult for me to think that Dinesen’s story would lack the beauty and contain the silly humor that is inherent in this greatly inferior interpretation. And that inferiority is evident in both writing and most of the performances...Worst of all is the poorly conceived Babette as woefully played by a dour and expressionless Michelle Hurst...The entire production is misconceived which will bring those who love 'Babette’s Feast' to a state of anguish." Full Review

The Portland Phoenix

for a previous production "Coonrod directs a masterpiece of ensemble work...Every element of both performance and design feels precisely, tenderly conceived, in a rapturous production that exudes warmth, grace, and a true sense of fellowship...Babette’s extraordinary extended cooking sequencebrings together the height of Hurst’s and the ensemble’s skills...A work that is, in the truest sense of the word, transcendent." Full Review


for a previous production "Retains the message of grace and humanity at the core of the tale, while casting the narrative in an entirely different, highly contemporaneous light. Intriguing and sometimes perplexing in its Brechtian staging, this production adheres closely to the Dinesen text...'Babette's Feast' speaks movingly to a modern world in need of compassion for our fellow beings, beauty and artistry for our souls, and sharing rather than polarizing." Full Review

Clever, Quirky, Riveting, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if You love watching the actors' craft make magic. Wonderful use of gesture & sound to evoke wonder & extravagance in an austere environment.

Don't see it if You can't use your imagination to substitute for a big splashy production. This is an intimate venue with a bare stage and minimal props.

Clever, Funny, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if An actor's play. Creative. Impressionist. Great acting. Great sound effects. Fantastical realm. Imaginative. Can link to current affairs.

Don't see it if You don't like. Creative. Impression. Great acting. Great sound effects. Fantastical mean kitchen cooking machine! Imagination.

Also It takes someone generous and courageous to make the first move. Human... Read more Read less

Clever, Great acting, Thought provoking, Brave, Ambitious

See it if you are interested in tales of grace and redemption

Don't see it if you want shallow entertainment

Clever, Delightful, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Imaginative

See it if you like intimate, thoughtful, playful theater

Don't see it if you want an expensive broadway production; you are expecting the movie version (this show is based on the short story that inspired it)

Also the set and costumes are quite spare; but the performances and staging... Read more Read less

Clever, Refreshing, Intelligent, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy a show without huge sets and minimal costume changes.

Don't see it if you don’t enjoy storytelling from a cast or need “big shows”.

Absorbing, Clever, Enchanting, Exquisite, Great acting

See it if you enjoyed the movie, enjoy fresh takes takes on famiar tales, enjoy great diction, costuming, stage choreography, and magical experiences

Don't see it if you prefer the comfort of very familiar stories told in very familiar ways.

Terrific staging and performances. good storytelling.

See it if appreciate clever stage and story craft.

Don't see it if You like simple traditional storytelling.

Beautiful ensemble work, Ambitious, Clever, Quirky, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to experience the difference between the narrow realism of film and the magic of theater. The ensemble is marvelous.

Don't see it if you expect the play to be just like the film. The well detailed characters move the plot forward using song, mime & just a suggestion of set

Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Great staging, Refreshing

See it if Interesting play. Good acting and funny story

Don't see it if Funny plays, fast moving

Clever, Delightful, Great singing, Great acting, Original

See it if A 90 minute morsel of quick paced fun theater -Unusual but funny plot with excellent acting & singing. Top notch Off Bdwy

Don't see it if Can't pay close attention to narrative. Want splashy musical, or serious drama. Don't like intimate theaters like St, Clement's church

Clever, Entertaining, Great acting, Ambitious, Delightful

See it if You like the work of great ensemble casts who breathe life into a wonderful story

Don't see it if You are not interested in a somewhat long but absorbing story about what drives human action

Clever, Entertaining, Masterful, Great staging, Great writing

See it if Creative , delightful and entertaining . Great writing and a cast who sings and dances in addition to excellent acting.

Don't see it if Do not see if you are interested in light musicals or dramas.

Clever, Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if You want to see a thoughtful, thought-provoking production.

Don't see it if You are looking for flashy theater -- this is a small-scale, simply-staged piece of theater.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Quirky, Great writing

See it if you enjoy a very unusual drama with good acting and staging. Costumes very suited to the story. I recommend you read short story to prepare.

Don't see it if you do not like dramas involving religion or you like comedy.

Also St Clements has no elevator and there are stairs to the box office, to... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging, Slow

See it if you want to see a truly interesting translation of film into theater with a lovely story. Also if you loved the film. Excellent staging.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy "storytelling" theater. Also the actress playing Babette did not connect with the other actors and left the audience cold.

Entertaining, Great acting, Ambitious, Clever

See it if You enjoy story theater told be a very strong ensemble.

Don't see it if You can't get there before Sunday when it closes.

Clever, Entertaining, Great acting, Quirky, Slow

See it if You loved the movie, enjoy a charming story with lots of exposition; strong actors and creative staging

Don't see it if You want a traditional play; lack imagination; seek an original story

Enchanting, Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent

See it if You want to see a wonderful cast on stage, are familiar with the story, or are familiar with the movie.

Don't see it if You don't like plays with messages, can't focus too long, want a fast paced show.

Deliciously designed, Crisp, Doesn't stick to the ribs, Flavorful performances

See it if you like story theater, precisely staged and acted, with a message about the transformative power of culture, social interaction & good eats

Don't see it if you want drama not narration. Oddly, once the masterful & mysterious Babette enters, the tension & interest waft away.

Clever, Ambitious, Cliched, Entertaining

See it if you remember the movie with delight

Don't see it if you don't lke to exerience new styoles

Great staging, Great acting, Disappointing, Confusing

See it if The actors tried hard but the story is trite. I understood the message they were trying to convey.

Don't see it if Cannot reproduce in a show what you can in a movie.

Ambitious, Overrated, Slow, Great staging, Great acting

See it if you like a ​well-staged and well-designed ensemble piece

Don't see it if you want well-developed characters​ to follow

Disappointing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You are interested in seeing a stage version of the Isak Dennison book of the same name. The direction unfortunately fails the story.

Don't see it if If you don't want to see a literary adaptation that is poorly directed.

Disappointing, Boring, Excruciating, Sleep inducing

See it if You have no expectation of seeing a theatrical version of the movie and you enjoy a very slow paced play.

Don't see it if You’re looking for a story that flows, 3 dimensional characters, excitement of any sort, good writing and a wonderful feast.

Ambitious, Banal, Disappointing, Overrated, Indulgent

See it if You would like to see a short story extended to a full stage production

Don't see it if You don't want to see needless over-choreography.

Cast & Creatives (16)