ALL CAKE, NO FILE: Johnny Cash Tribute Comes To The Actors' Gang 6/11-7/31
Gastro-politico-rock 'n' roll sass! Writer/actress Donna Jo Thorndale brings an all new, expanded version of ALL CAKE, NO FILE: The Johnny Cash Prison Tribute Comedy Cooking Show/Concert, starring celebrity chef Jewell Rae Jeffers, to The Actors' Gang every Friday and Saturday, June 11 through July 31, at 9 pm.
Thorndale's Jewell Rae Jeffers is a celebrity chef, home economist, and host of the popular syndicated live cooking show, "Tastes Like Home." Jewell Rae's love of music, boxed cake mixes, and convicted felons inspired her favorite project, ALL CAKE, NO FILE, during which she bakes and serves guests of the California state prison system - all the while accompanied by Johnny Cash tribute band With A Bible And A Gun. This summer, Actors' Gang audiences have the chance to see her Amoeba Records® endorsed prison show - and to taste a different Jailbreak Cake every weekend.
"The most powerful avenues for connecting to people - that aren't illegal - are humor, music, and food. When we come together in the presence of that trinity, anything is possible," explains Jeffers, who knows her rock 'n' roll as well as her scripture. "It was either Bob Dylan or Jesus Christ who said, 'You're gonna have to serve somebody,' and that's why the call on my life is to make the world a better place - one recipe, and one cake, at a time."
Best known for progressive, flavor-forward recipes like her sweet 'n' spicy Republican Backyard Barbecue: Getting Porked Three Ways, Hillary Clinton's Black & Bleu Salad, and irresistible Barack Chocolate (visit www.eatdrinkordie.com to view cooking demos), Jewell Rae originally hails from Lexington, Kentucky. It was there, training at her grandmother's apron strings on a tobacco farm in Woodford County, that she learned the two guiding philosophies of her life: "If you've got it, give it," and "If you cook it, they will come." Her passion for cooking and connecting with people has taken her from coast to coast, to the stage and studio, and currently, to the streets of America where she is filming her documentary Get It Real, Get It Right: Feeding Humanity, Not Celebrity. She is also a knife-skills educator, a dedicated rollerblader and a beginning piano player. An ardent fan of music and flawed men, Jewell Rae is married to award-winning mandolin player, Dwayne "Brick" Jeffers. When Jewell Rae isn't cooking, she engages in activism by writing a political culinary blog which appears on The Huffington Post.
In ALL CAKE, NO FILE, Jewell Rae offers up her incomparable tasty mix of cooking, politics and rock 'n' roll - laced with a spiritual message of optimism and redemption.
"We have to hold onto our hope and our sense of humor," says Thorndale, who performed an earlier version of the show both in the maximum security California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, CA and as part of The Actors' Gang's WTF?! Festival last fall. "If there's breath in your body, then there's a way to move forward, there's a way to use your time and life positively. Short of that, there's at least time to eat some cake and listen to Johnny Cash."
To that end, a portion of the ticket sales from ALL CAKE, NO FILE will be used to support The Actors' Gang's Prison Project, which has been helping to reduce recidivism through in-prison theatrical training since 2007.
"The core of The Prison Project is to address recidivism by encouraging creative, nonviolent expression," Thorndale concludes. "That's why Jewell Rae Jeffers supports the program. She's a bad girl that got lucky and lived to tell the tale. She's not busy judging anyone; she's about connecting through the food, the humor, and the music."
Writer/actress Donna Jo Thorndale has hosted the Tastes Like Home live cooking show as celebrity chef and home economist Jewell Rae Jeffers since 2003 in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and San Diego. Her politico-webseries Year of the Rat: Nutritional Guidance for the 2008 Presidential Election was featured on the popular websites "Funny or Die" and "Eat, Drink, or Die." Donna Jo played the role of Gina in Nora Ephron's adaptation of Love, Loss, and What I Wore, directed by Shira Piven. At The Actors' Gang, where she has been a member since 2004, Donna Jo has appeared in The Women of Lockerbie, Klüb, Carnage: A Comedy, King O'Leary, Bury the Dead, and Cymbeline the Puppet King. As a writer, her plays have been produced in Lexington and Louisville, KY and in Los Angeles, CA. Her one-act play exploring gender politics, Apron, Apron, Screwdriver won the University of Kentucky's Oswald Award for Research and Creativity. Her political culinary blog appears on The Huffington Post. Originally from Lexington, KY, Donna Jo is American by birth and Southern by the grace of God.
From atop a flatbed truck in California's Norco State Prison and all points beyond, With A Bible And A Gun plays the music of Johnny Cash like no other act. Not a "tribute band" in the traditional sense, vocalist/rhythm guitarist Corby Gallegos, electric guitarist Jim Vitale, bassist Mike Salazar, and drummer Alex Carlisle recognize that Johnny Cash was a singular human phenomenon who can never be truly emulated; they've made the decision to let the music itself be the tribute and don't try to do impersonations. Of course, they do wear black. Some things are sacred.
Shira Piven developed and directed the book Love, Loss, and What I Wore for the stage which was produced by Nora Ephron and went on to an Off Broadway run; Little at The Actors Gang; Fully Loaded, featuring Paula Killen, at Upright Citizens Bigrade Theatre; and the stage version of Tastes Like Home for The California Correctional Center and at The WTF?! Festival at The Actors' Gang. She co-wrote/directed, with husband Adam McKay, several evenings of original short plays in both New York and L.A. Directing credits include the improvised movement theater group Burn Manhattan, of which she was a founding member, featuring Kate Walsh, Todd Stashwick and brother Jeremy Piven; Ari Roth's Born Guilty in Chicago; Number of People at the Pasadena Playhouse and at Hartford Stage, with Ed Asner; andCindy Caponera in the solo show A Debutante's Ball at LaMama in New York and at Victory Gardens in Chicago. From 1999- 2003, Shira was artistic director of Water Theatre Company in New York where she directed and adapted Pilgrims, based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert and produced by Mike Nichols. Shira recently directed/co-wrote her first feature film, Fully Loaded, now in post-production.
The Actors' Gang has been producing theater in Los Angeles, in 40 states, and on four continents, for 28 years. Founded in 1982 by a group of renegade theater artists, the Gang has over 100 productions and more than 100 awards to its credit, and consistently wins acclaim for its daring interpretations of Shakespeare, Buchner, Brecht, Moliere, Aeschylus, Ibsen and Chekhov, while also developing bold new plays that address the world today through a prism of satire, popular culture, and raucous stagecraft. Its mission is to present new uncompromising plays and relevant and dynamic interpretations of the classics; to restore the ancient sense of the stage as a shared sacred space; to introduce the theater to student audiences; and to bring freedom of emotional expression to the incarcerated. Fueled by the vision of Artistic Director, Tim Robbins, its programs include mainstage plays, education and outreach programs, and touring.
Performances of ALL CAKE, NO FILE take place Fridays and Saturdays at 9 pm, June 11 through July 31. Tickets (reserved seating) are $25.00. The Actors' Gang is located in the Ivy Substation at 9070 Venice Blvd. (near the intersection of Culver and Venice Blvds.) in Culver City.Two hours free parking is available throughout downtown Culver City; the Ince Parking Lot (corner of Culver and Ince) is directly across the street from the theater. In addition, several restaurants (Italian, French, Thai, Japanese, and more) are only a few blocks' walk from The Actors' Gang and offer a variety of dining options before and after the theater. The Ivy Substation is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. For reservations and information, call The Actors' Gang Box Office at 310-838-GANG (310-838-4264)or go www.theactorsgang.com.