RED VELVET CAKE WAR By Jones, Hope and Wooten Coming Up At Barter Theatre

May 25
10:13 AM 2012


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 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.


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Jeffrey Ellis Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 25 years. He is the recipient of the Tennessee Theatre Association's Distinguished Service Award for his coverage of theatre in the Volunteer State and was the founding editor/publisher of Stages, the Tennessee Onstage Monthly. He is a past fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and is the founder/executive producer of The First Night Honors - the history of which can be traced to 1989 and the first presentation of The First Night Awards - which honor outstanding theater artisans from Tennessee in recognition of their lifetime achievements and also includes The First Night Star Awards and the Most Promising Actors recognition. Midwinter's First Night honors outstanding productions and performances throughout the state. An accomplished director, Ellis helmed productions of La Cage Aux Folles, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and An American Daughter, all in their Nashville premieres, as well as award-winning productions of Damn Yankees, Company, Gypsy and The Rocky Horror Show. Ellis was recognized by The Tennessean as best director of a musical for both Company and Rocky Horror. In 2015, he directed William Inge's Picnic for Circle Players and Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years for VWA Theatricals, with The Larry Keeton Theatre's production of Beth Henley's The Miss Firecracker Contest set for spring 2016.

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