IF YOU GO
“The Red Velvet Cake War”
When: Oct.13 – 15 and 20 – 22 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 16 and 23 at 3 p.m.
Where: Center Street Arts, 910 Center Street in Conyers
Price: General admission is $20 and the student/senior rate is $16
For more info: To purchase tickets, call (678) 374-3224 or visit www.thenewdepotplayers.com.
The New Depot Players hope audiences indulge in their latest madcap confection, "The Red Velvet Cake War." Begin with the play writing team, Jones Hope Wooten, who penned previous hits "Dearly Beloved" and "The Dixie Swim Club," add some TNDP acting favorites and put director Cathe Hall-Payne in charge of the kitchen, and it's an irresistible recipe for a satisfying southern comedy.
Set in Sweetgum, Texas, the play centers on the upcoming Verdeen family reunion. Matriarch Aunt LaMerle, a stickler for propriety, wants to pull the plug on the annual event to divert attention from the younger generation's antics and the unsavory spotlight thrust upon the family. Fresh from "accidentally" driving her minivan into her husband's girlfriend's doublewide trailer, her niece Gaynelle, along with cousins Peaches and Jimmy Wyvette, decide to host the reunion. Their motivation is to establish Gaynelle's sanity to the court-appointed psychologist and celebrate ornery Uncle Aubrey's 90th birthday.
As Aunt LaMerle, the ever-talented Bobbie Elzey is persnickety perfection chastising Uncle Aubrey and needling Gaynelle into staking her home, her last asset, on a red velvet cake contest. LaMerle isn't above hoarding the town's supply of red food coloring. Tom Harrison energetically nails the wily, oxygen tank-toting, womanizing, trouble making Uncle Aubrey.
The chemistry of the cast elevates the wacky scenarios. The heart of the play is the bond between the three cousins. Amber McCullough entirely embodies Gaynelle's desperation and resulting melt-downs. Amy LeCates brings the necessary vigor to Peaches, a "cadaver cosmetologist" spoiling to unleash pent-up "urges" after her trucker husband left without a word seven years ago. The winning Connie Davis plays Jimmy Wyvette, the awkward, unibrow-rocking western wear store manager. She engages in a casserole battle with prissy Bitsy Hargis (Lory Cox) to win the affections of a recent widower.
Helping to fuel the high jinks are more eccentric characters. The play's unintentional Romeo, Newt Blaylock (Scott Mills), doesn't let a missing eye stop him from avoiding Peaches, pursuing Gaynelle then falling for her psychologist, Elsa Dowdall (Stephanie Wilkerson). Rounding out the cast of characters are Sylvia Veith (Cee Cee Windham) chipper host of the cable-access "Hospitality House," Mama Doll Hargis (Angie Short), Uncle Aubrey's paramour, and Purvis Verdeen (Robert Newton), a relation intent on snapping pictures of dead relatives.
Although the production marks Cathe Hall-Payne's TNDP debut, she's a veteran director with OnStage Atlanta and Theater Decatur and has staged several Jones Hope Wooten comedies. Hall-Payne's goal for the pace and tone is "faster, funnier and louder...if you give the audience time to stop and think it could become too silly." She believes the "charming part is somebody in the play will remind everybody of one of their relatives."
"The Red Velvet Cake War" runs Oct.13 - 15 and 20 - 22 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 16 and 23 at 3 p.m. at Center Street Arts, 910 Center Street in Conyers. General admission is $20 and the student/senior rate is $16. To purchase tickets, call (678) 374-3224 or visit www.thenewdepotplayers.com.