Towne Players Present the N.C. Premiere of “The Red Velvet Cake War” by Jones, Hope, and Wooten

"The Red Velvet Cake War" by Jones, Hope, and Wooten opens April 15th
"The Red Velvet Cake War" by Jones, Hope, and Wooten opens April 15th

"The Red Velvet Cake War" by Jones, Hope, and Wooten opens April 15th
"The Red Velvet Cake War" by Jones, Hope, and Wooten opens April 15th

The Towne Players will present the North Carolina premiere of The Red Velvet Cake War, a delightful new down-home comedy written by Tarheel playwrights Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten and directed by Towne Players artistic director Beth Honeycutt, on April 15, 16, 22, and 23 in the handsomely refurbished 470-seat Garner Historic Auditorium.

According to the playwrights’ website:

“In this riotously funny Southern-fried comedy, the three Verdeen cousins — Gaynelle [Sharon Pearce], Peaches [Marsha Pressley], and Jimmie Wyvette [Kelly Stansell] — could not have picked a worse time to throw their family reunion.  Their outrageous antics have set tongues wagging 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 [Towne Players mainstay Frances Stanley] is quick to point out.

“Having ‘accidentally’ crashed her minivan through the bedroom wall of her husband’s girlfriend’s doublewide, Gaynelle [Verdeen Bodeen] is one frazzled nerve away from a spectacular meltdown. Peaches [Verdeen Belrose], the saucy 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 [Verdeen], the roughhewn store manager of Whatley’s Western Wear, is resorting to extreme measures to outmaneuver a priss-pot neighbor [Megan Kirkpatrick as Bitsy Hargis] 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 [Ethel Webster as Elsa Dowdall]. 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 [Tim Stancil as eyepatch-wearing certified Texas eccentric Newt Blaylock] shows up to declare his love and a shocking high-stakes wager is made on who bakes the best red velvet cake. As this fast-paced uproarious romp barrels toward its surprising climax, you’ll wish your own family reunion was this much fun!”

Besides the performers named above, the Towne Players’ cast for The Red Velvet Cake War includes Linda Brochin as chic and perky “Hospitality House” host Cee Cee Windham; Jack Chapman as oxygen-dependent family patriarch Aubrey Verdeen; Alan Williford as mean mirrored-sunglasses-wearing Sheriff Grover Lout; Wanda Nicholson as Bitsy Hargis’ mother, Mama Doll Hargis; and Scott Renz as Purvis Verdeen, whose icky “hobby” is photographing dead relatives.

In her Director’s Notes for the show’s program, director Beth Honeycutt muses:

“There is an old film [by screwball-comedy director and screenwriter extraordinaire Preston Sturges] called Sullivan’s Travels [1941], in which a famous movie director [Joel McCrea as John Lloyd Sullivan ] decides to make the ultimate classic film showing society’s suffering during the Great Depression. He decides to live the life of a hobo to research material for the film.

“Through a series of accidents and mistaken identities, he is imprisoned and sentenced to hard labor. One night, the prisoners are led to the dining tent where they are shown a silly cartoon. The director watches in surprise as this weary, defeated group comes to life roaring with laughter at the trivial comedy. He realizes that the comedies he has been making have real worth and value in taking his fellow man from a place of sorrow to a haven of joy.

“I am certainly no Sullivan, but I do have a healthy respect for occasionally directing a show that requires nothing from the audience but laughter. In these difficult times, the gift of a giggle may be the most powerful, precious thing we have to offer. So, tonight, suspend reality, head with me to Sweetgum, Texas, and let’s have some fun!”

In addition to director Beth Honeycutt, the Towne Players’ creative team for The Red Velvet Cake War includes technical director Scott Honeycutt and stage manager Shelly Cooper.

The Jones, Hope, and Wooten website adds:

“Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten are currently enjoying the reputation of being three of the most widely-produced comedic playwrights in America. Their Southern-style laugh-out-loud comedies include the wildly popular Futrelle Family Texas Trilogy: Dearly Beloved, Christmas Belles, and Southern Hospitality. Jones, Hope, and Wooten are also authors of the hit plays The Dixie Swim Club, The Hallelujah Girls, Til Beth Do Us Part, and their newest comedies The Red Velvet Cake War and Dashing Through the Snow. Their work also appears in The Best Women’s Stage Monologues 2008 (Smith & Kraus, publisher) and Outstanding Women’s Monologues, Vol. Two (Dramatists Play Service, Inc., publisher).

“Jessie Jones [and David Dean Bottrell] co-authored the award-winning classic, Southern-fried funeral comedy, Dearly Departed [1992], and its feature film adaptation, Kingdom Come, which was released by Fox Searchlight Films. Nicholas Hope was director of casting for Theatre Communications Group in New York, The Goodman Theatre in Chicago, and ABC Television in New York and Los Angeles. Jamie Wooten spent many seasons with Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia as a writer/producer on the classic television series ‘The Golden Girls.’

“With more than 1,200 productions and over 10,000 performances, the Jones Hope Wooten Comedies have now entertained more than 1,000,000 theatergoers in 49 states across America and in Canada, Denmark, The Netherlands, Australia, Mexico, The Virgin Islands, and the United Kingdom!”

SECOND OPINION: April 10th Garner-Clayton Record preview by Sarah Nagem:

The Towne Players present THE RED VELVET CAKE WAR at 8 p.m. April 15, 2 and 8 p.m. April 16, 8 p.m. April 22, and 2 and 8 p.m. April 23 in Garner Historic Auditorium, 742 W. Garner Rd., Garner, North Carolina 27529.

TICKETS: $12 ($10 students and seniors 55+).

BOX OFFICE: Tickets will be sold at the door.

INFORMATION: 919/779-6144 or






The Play: (official website).

The Playwrights: (official website) and (Wikipedia).


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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By Robert W. McDowell

Robert W. McDowell is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer, editor, and critic. He has written theater, film, book, and music previews and reviews for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, and Classical Voice of North Carolina, all based in Raleigh. In 1980-91, he covered business, industry, government, and education for (We the People of) North Carolina magazine, published monthly by N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry. In April 2001, McDowell started Robert's Reviews, a FREE weekly e-mail newsletter that provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the performing arts in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. Triangle Review is the latest-and-greatest version of McDowell's original newsletter. (To start your FREE subscription, e-mail robertm748[at] and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) From December 1980 until September 2017, McDowell served on the board of directors of The Cinema, Inc., a Raleigh-based nonprofit film society formed in 1966. He currently publishes a weekly list of FREE advance screenings of movies in the Triangle area. (To have your e-mail address added to this FREE list, e-mail robertm748[at] and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.) McDowell also co-edited and supervised the production of Jim Valvano's Guide to Great Eating (JTV Enterprises, 1984), a 224-page sports celebrity cookbook; and he served as a fact checker for Valvano: They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead (Pocket Books, 1991).