So much can happen around a table.

People reunite, they put their cellphones away to catch up with each others' lives. Sometimes, they just might get up and dance.

At least that's what happens when New Venture Theatre's stages "The Cookout" on May 4 with shows at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The dance musical will tell the story of a family reunion in LSU's Claude L. Shaver Theatre. And all of the action will revolve around the table and the food on it.

"I was trying to think of the perfect recipe for bringing a family together, and I thought of my own family and how we always gather for food," said Dwight Bell, the show's creator, choreographer and director. "Food is what keeps them coming together."

The new production was spurred by Bell's success with the theater company's first dance musical, "Love, Whitney."

"I started thinking about families," he said, "and I thought that this would be a great story to tell."

A short narration will set the scene, after which a cast of 25 between the ages of 10 and 29 will tell the story through dance.

Bell has chosen music to reflect the ages of family members, from Marvin Gaye's "Before I Go" to Beyoncé's "Homecoming."

"I watched what my aunties and uncles did at cookouts to shape the story," Bell said. "That's part of the fun. And the cast will be wearing family reunion T-shirts, and they'll be wearing different things for different dances. Families like to put on talent shows during reunions, so they'll be wearing different things for that."

Younger folks will be teaching their elders the latest dance moves, while older relatives show their descendants how they used to get down back in the day.

And it will all happen around a picnic table filled with food.

'The Cookout'

A New Venture Theatre original production

WHEN: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. May 4.

WHERE: Claude L. Shaver Theatre in the LSU Music and Dramatic Arts Building, Dalrymple Drive

TICKETS/INFO: $20; $15, children, students with valid ID and groups of 10 or more with advance ticket purchases. (225) 588-7576 or

Follow Robin Miller on Twitter, @rmillerbr.