Barter Theatre promises that a craving for a good, family-centered Southern comedy will be satisfied-even if you leave the theatre hankering for a certain baked confection-in the upcoming production of The Red Velvet Cake War, running May 31-August 18 at Barter Theatre Main Stage.
Written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten-three of the most widely-produced comedic playwrights in America-The Red Velvet Cake War is described as "a wonderful Southern comedy with characters that we all might recognize from our own families (though maybe not admit to!)," according to director Nicholas Piper.
"And the crazier things get for the Verdeens, the more we can relate to them, because no one can fight as mean, love as deep, or laugh as hard as family," he says.
In The Red Velvet Cake War, meet the members of the Verdeen family: There's the bossy Aunt La Merle, played by Mary Lucy Bivins, who has been a thorn in everyone's side for long enough. She also prides herself on hosting the annual family reunion and keeping the family's reputation as shiny as a new coat of wax on a hard wood floor-doesn't matter to her what someone might be dealing with, as long as the public doesn't find out.
Cousin Gaynelle (Carrie Smith) is a loving person on the verge of snapping; her husband has left her for another, and Aunt La Merle has pushed her one too many times. When they wage a bet on which can make the best red velvet cake, Gaynelle bets her house that she will win against La Merle. The thing is, LaMerle is known the town over for making the best red velvet cake for years.
Jimmie Wyvette, or Jimmie Wy as her cousins call her, (Wendy Piper, Violet in 9 to 5: The Musical) is a tomboy with a unibrow who is in a war of her own with neighbor Bitsy Hargess (Tricia Matthews) for the heart of the widower next door.
Peaches (Ashley Campos, Judy in 9 to 5: The Musical) is loud-talking and fun-loving and happens to be the best mortuarial cosmetologist in this part of the state.
These three cousins decide they are going to put Aunt La Merle in her place once and for all by hosting this year's Verdeen family reunion themselves and by helping Gaynelle make the best red velvet cake, ever. It's going to be one whirlwind of a week; and they will stop at nothing to make this reunion a success.
"These women love and support one another. They've got to stand by each other no matter how crazy things get," says Piper.
The Red Velvet Cake War also features other Barter favorites including Mary Lucy Bivins, (Elvis Has Left the Building and 9 to 5: The Musical), Jasper McGruder (Looking Over the President's Shoulder), Rick McVey (The Road to Appomattox) and Holly Williams (Disney's Beauty and the Beast).
Nashville's own Erin Parker was originally cast in the comedy, but had to withdraw due to recent unexpected back surgery. "I'm still a part of the resident company here, but I'll be off the stage until A Christmas Story this fall/winter," Parker told BroadwayWorld Nashville.
In the spirit of family reunions, Barter Theatre is offering a special package for groups of seven or more: $30 per person includes a ticket to the show, a large red velvet cake to share with your group and a choice of coffee or tea at The Barter Café.
The Red Velvet Cake War opens at Barter Theatre on May 31. Call (276) 628-3991 or visit BarterTheatre.com for tickets.
Pictured: Erin Parker, Ashley Campos, Wendy Piper and Mary Lucy Bivins in the Southern comedy The Red Velvet Cake War beginning at Barter Theatre May 31.