Southern fried comedy

Sun City stage sizzles with ‘Red Velvet Cake War’

In the small Texas town of Sweetgum, poor Gaynelle has just “accidentally” crashed her minivan through the bedroom wall of her husband’s girlfriend’s doublewide, and now Gaynelle is one frazzled nerve away from a spectacular meltdown. Her cousins, Peaches, the number-one mortuarial cosmetologist in the tri-county area, and Jimmie Wyvette, a rough-around-the-edges store manager of Whatley’s Western Wear, have problems of their own to deal with. But the three Verdeen cousins have committed to throwing their family reunion, and it’s too late to back out now.

Welcome to “The Red Velvet Cake War,” the uproariously funny comedy about an ill-fated family reunion held on the hottest day of July during Texas tornado season. Things start to spin out of control when a neighbor’s pet makes an unexpected visit, a one-eyed suitor shows up to declare his love, and a high-stakes wager is made over who can bake the best red velvet cake.

The cast of "Red Velvet Cake War" poses in character at a recent rehearsal. (Photo by Tony Pratt/Sun Day)

The cast of “Red Velvet Cake War” poses in character at a recent rehearsal. (Photo by Tony Pratt/Sun Day)

The Theatre Company of Sun City presents “The Red Velvet Cake War” July 27-29, headlined by Diane Scott as Gaynelle, Madge Motyka as Peaches, and Judy Stage as Jimmie Wynette. Director John Scott, in his fourth year of directing the summer play, says the comedy is written by the wildly popular trio, nicknamed “America’s Playwrights,” Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten. The same playwrights wrote other plays performed at Sun City, including “Til Beth Do Us Part” and “Hallelujah Girls.”

“I think this is the funniest play we’ve ever done,” said Scott. “We haven’t done it until now because it has 12 characters in it.” This year, Scott says the large cast includes nine first-timers, many of which have never been in a production before. “The cast is outstanding,” he says.

‘Really worth taking the chance.’

One actor, Debi Sieckman, is making her debut on the Drendel Hall stage after moving to Sun City only three months ago.

The Red Velvet Cake War

Performances: July 27-29, 7 p.m.
Drendel Hall at Prairie Lodge

Ticket sale dates: June 28, July 10, and July 17, 9 a.m.-noon at Fountainview Atrium

Ticket info: (847) 515-8545

“I’ve probably made more friends here in the few months I’ve been here than the entire 23 years in my old neighborhood,” she says. Since moving to Sun City, Sieckman says all the things she used to love before having a family and career are available to her now in retirement. Sieckman’s husband, Paul Zinicki, asks, “May I make an appointment with you?” and Sieckman answers with a laugh, “I don’t think I can fit you into my schedule anymore!” In the throes of rehearsal, Sieckman is reconnecting with her roots on stage as a young sketch comedy and improv performer at the Second City in Chicago.

Red Velvet Cake War cast members Dick Storer and Diane Scott execute a scene at rehearsals. (Photo by Tony Pratt/Sun Day)

Red Velvet Cake War cast members Dick Storer and Diane Scott execute a scene at rehearsals. (Photo by Tony Pratt/Sun Day)

“When I was 35, I did a year of studying at Second City,” said Sieckman, who promised herself 15 years earlier that someday, she would perform at Chicago iconic comedy center. “Being on that stage was the most exciting highlight of my life. I saw Gilda Radner’s name on the wall, and used the same backstage area that John Belushi used.”

Playing the role of Cee Cee Wyndham, Sieckman channels her inner sassy cable TV talk-show host with a southern flare in “Red Velvet Cake War.” She jumped into her audition, not knowing what to expect.

“I haven’t memorized lines in 25 years!” she said. “I don’t even have my address memorized yet!” she joked. “It’s worth it for the direction and support you get. [The cast is] so talented and so professional and so good.”

“This show is one laugh after another,” said Scott. “We crack up as we’re running it.”

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