The Red Velvet Cake War, as produced by Sumter Players at the Rylander Theatre next month, promises to be not only knee-slapping funny, but crazily like families you might be a part of. The laugh riot show opens at the Rylander on September 13 and other performances will follow on September 14, 15 and 16. Opening night will be highlighted by the announcing of the winners of the REAL red velvet contest conducted by Sumter Players prior to the show.
To be a part of the REAL red velvet cookoff, area residents are invited to file notice of entry by September 10 and then bring the entry to the Rylander by 6:00 pm on Opening Night where it will be judged by an expert panel. Winners will be announced and valuable prizes awarded at intermission. All entries will be displayed and made available for tasting at a reception following the show. Complete rules and an entry form are online at sumterplayer.org/cake. Notice of entry may also be filed by e-mail or by mail to P.O. Box 154, Americus. There is no charge to enter.
On stage, in the outrageously funny Southern-fried comedy, the three Verdeen cousins — Gaynelle (played by Ashley Longacre), Peaches (portrayed by Daina Rosario) and Jimmie Wyvette (Ellen Cotter) — could not have picked a worse time to throw their family reunion. Their outrageous antics have delighted local gossips in the small town of Sweetgum (just down the road from Fayro) and the eyes of Texas are upon them, as their self-righteous Aunt LaMerle (Alanna Goolsby) is quick to point out.
Having “accidentally” crashed her minivan through the bedroom wall of her husband’s girlfriend’s doublewide, Gaynelle is one frazzled nerve away from a spectacular meltdown. Peaches, a saucy firebrand and the number one mortuarial cosmetologist in the tri-county area, is struggling to decide if it’s time to have her long-absent trucker husband declared dead. And Jimmie Wyvette, the rough-around-the-edges store manager of Whatley’s Western Wear, is resorting to extreme measures to outmaneuver a priss-pot neighbor for the affections of Sweetgum’s newest widower. But the cousins can’t back out of the reunion now. It’s on and Gaynelle’s hosting it!
Peaches and Jimmie Wyvette have decided its success is the perfect way to prove Gaynelle’s sanity to a skeptical court-appointed psychologist (Genie Bryan). Unfortunately, they face an uphill battle as a parade of wildly eccentric Verdeens gathers on the hottest day of July, smack-dab in the middle of Texas tornado season. Things spin hilariously out of control when a neighbor’s pet devours everything edible, a one-eyed suitor (played by Jonathan Minich) shows up to declare his love and a jaw-dropping high-stakes wager is made on who bakes the best red velvet cake. As this fast-paced romp barrels toward its uproarious climax, you’ll wish your own family reunions were this much fun!
Others in the show include Shea Sloan as the sassy hostess of the cable access show — “Hospitality House”, Richard Nettum as Uncle Aubrey Verdeen — the oxygen dependent family patriarch, Madison Sloan as the perky, prim and nosy Bitsy Hargis, Jeremy Ellenberg as gun totin’ Sheriff Grover Lout, and Jason Wallace as camera happy Cousin Purvis.
The Red Velvet Cake War will be performed at the Rylander Theatre in downtown Americus on September 13, 14 and 15 at 8:00 pm with a Sunday Matinee on September 16 at 2:30 pm. Reserved seat tickets to all performances are available at the Rylander box office, 310 West Lamar Street in Americus, telephone 229 931-0001 or (tollfree) 1 877 662-2312, and online from rylander.org and sumterplayer.org. Groups of ten or more receive discounted rates. Major credit/debit cards are accepted.