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  • Writer's pictureBobbi Jo Lathan


Updated: Dec 31, 2023


When you’re an actress on Broadway chances are you’ll eventually be in a “flop.” Some girls remember their first kiss, theater actresses remember their first “flop.” Mine was a show called, Zapata, produced and directed by the late Bert Convy. The show premiered at The Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut.

It was a musical about Emiliano Zapata and the Mexican Revolution. And what a great cast! Edward Olmos was supposed to play the lead, but at the last minute he ended up filming Zoot Suit, so another wonderful actor, Shawn Elliott took the lead. Another marvelous actor, Reni Santoni, played his brother, while I played the female lead. The music and lyrics were by Harry Nilsson and Perry Botkin, Jr., libretto by Alan Katz. It was based on a play by the great Raphael Bunuel.

At the opening night party, I was introduced to Ringo Starr and his lovely wife, who were friends of Harry Nilsson. When I asked him how he liked the show, he mischievously replied in his Liverpool accent, “The music was great! It was the bits in-between that bothered me.” I guess he was right. The show flopped and never made it to Broadway. I was so disappointed.

When I got back to New York City, my Aunt Noni called to see how everything went. I began crying over the phone. She immediately scolded me.“Now, you listen here,” she said. “Bobbi Jo? You just get yourself into your kitchen and cook yourself up a big pot of jambalaya! And when you’re done cookin’, you pour yourself a big glass of merlot. You raise that glass and make a toast, ‘To Zapata! My first, but problee’ not my last, big flop!’”

About an hour later I was sitting down, poured me some more merlot (I’d already started while cookin’), made that special toast, and then dug into some of the best jambalaya I’d ever made! And, you know what? Dadgum, it worked! By the first bite of that Andouille sausage, and that second glass of wine (umm… who’s counting?) heck, I was already thinking about my next audition! So, if you’re suffering from any kind of life’s little “flops,” believe me, this recipe is tailor-made for you. Oh, but don’t forget the merlot!

OK. This here dish can be done in ONE pot!


Recipe by: Bobbi Jo Lathan

Recipe type: Entree

Cuisine: Southern


3 tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Whole chicken (cut-up into small pieces)

5 Andouille sausages (sliced)

1 Ham hock

½ pound Raw shrimp (shelled and deveined)

1 Can chopped tomatoes

1 Can chicken stock

1 Onion (chopped)

2 Cloves garlic (chopped)

2 Stalks celery (chopped)

3 cups Long grain white rice

2 tablespoons Garlic powder

1 tablespoon Cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon Thyme

1 teaspoon Oregano

1 teaspoon Sweet basil

2 Green onions chopped (for garnish)


  1. Git yourself a deep skillet (All-Clad makes a really good one) and put about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in it and heat it up.

  2. Salt, pepper (black) and garlic powder them chicken pieces that you cut up and throw ’em in the hot skillet and brown on both sides ‘til golden.

  3. Take ‘em out when browned and place on a plate.

  4. Now throw them sausage pieces into the same skillet and brown them (turning) and take out and put on the plate. (They will not be fully cooked)

  5. Throw in the chopped onions, celery and garlic and sauté them in the same oil. (If you need to add a little more oil…do so)

  6. Once they’re translucent, pour in the chicken stock and the tomatoes and an extra cup of water and all the above spices listed (cayenne, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, garlic powder).

  7. Let it come to a boil and stir around a bit.

  8. Add the rice and then stir and add the chicken and sausages that you already browned back into the pot, too.

  9. Lower the flame (like you cook rice) and place the lid on the skillet and let it all cook down (according to rice package directions).

  10. When the rice is almost done (in about 15 or 20 minutes and still a tiny bit crunchy) add the raw shrimp to the mixture.

  11. Put the lid back on the jambalaya and let cook another 5 minutes or so until shrimp are pink and rice is done.

  12. Garnish with chopped green onions or chopped parsley and serve.

The Poster From My First Big Musical Flop! 

Zapata poster

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