published Friday, February 24th, 2012

'Red Velvet Cake War' whips up comedy gold

IF YOU GO

What: "The Red Velvet Cake War."

When: 7:30 p.m. today, Saturday and March 2-3; 2 p.m. Sunday and March 4.

Where: Tennessee Valley Theatre, 184 W. Jackson Ave., Spring City, Tenn.

Admission: $10.

Phone: 423-365-7529.

Website: www.tennesseevalleytheatre.com.

What's not funny about a bake-off amid a family reunion of eccentric characters on the hottest day of the year?

It's comedy gold.

"The Red Velvet Cake War," which opens tonight at Tennessee Valley Theatre in Spring City, Tenn., combines those elements and more in a Southern-fried comedy by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten.

"It's pretty riotous," said director Tony McCuiston. "It's a hilarious play."

The comedy, he said, is part farce and part physical comedy and features plenty of plays on words.

The story focuses on the red velvet cake war that erupts when one of the Verdeen cousins makes a shockingly high-stakes wager -- she bets the house -- with self-righteous family matriarch Aunt LaMerle in the small town of Sweetgum, Texas.

The wager, of course, climaxes at the outdoor reunion in the middle of the state's annual tornado season.

McCuiston said the 11-member cast is filled with "colorful characters," one or more of which audience members may find themselves comparing to their own relatives.

"It's over-the-top," he said, "but it has some reality to it."

An ensemble comedy, according to McCuiston, is not necessarily easy to pull off.

"It's all on the [line] delivery," he said. "It's not as easy as a lot of folks think."

Jones, playwright of "Dearly Departed," which TVT has staged, sent board president Harry Landreth the script last year, believing it might be appropriate for the theater, McCuiston said.

"I thought it read pretty good," he said.

McCuiston said the production should be a crowd-pleaser.

"It's got a lot of good stuff," he said. "If anybody comes, they're going to have a good laugh, a good, fun evening."

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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