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Pam Bucklew, who plays Aunt LaMerle in the 'Red Velvet Cake War,' and David Carson, who plays Aubrey Verdeen, during the BCT's final dress rehearsal before Thursday's opening night performance. / Photos by Monica Zalaznik

Any way you slice it, BCT’s ‘Red Velvet Cake War’ features fun, quirky family members and relatable humor, cast members say

BUCKHANNON – The Buckhannon Community Theatre invites the community to enjoy a play about a dysfunctional southern family people can laugh at and sympathize with in its production of “The Red Velvet Cake War.”

The show opened May 4 and will continue May 5-7 at the Colonial Arts Center on Main Street. The May 5-6 performances will begin at 7 p.m., and the May 7 show will be a matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets for any of the showings can be purchased on Eventbrite here.

Matasha Weaver, director of the BCT production of “Red Velvet Cake War,” said the script they are working with was written by some of the people who wrote for “The Golden Girls” and “Designing Women,” and the BCT board jumped at the opportunity to produce a show with similar humor.

“It is a wacky, white trash jamboree – that is a line from the show,” Weaver said. “It is about three cousins who are trying to host a family reunion on the hottest day in July, and everything that could go wrong, goes wrong, so they have to try and win in a red velvet cake bake-off against their aunt, who is always scheming and trying to belittle everyone.”

Weaver said the comedy resonated with the cast members, who still find scenes and lines funny after long nights of rehearsing.

“Everyone has been so professional and wonderful, even now that we’ve heard the lines a million times, we still hear people laughing backstage every night,” Weaver said. “Everyone just thinks it’s hysterical.”

Gigi Collett will make her return to the BCT stage for her first non-musical role to play Gaynelle Verdeen Bodeen.

“I did, ‘Shrek’ with BCT back in 2017, and I was the dragon – that was probably the last thing I’ve done with BCT because then I got cast in ‘Annie’ in 2019, and I was Miss Hannagan, and then COVID hit, so we’ve kind of been under the radar, but now it’s nice to get back on stage,” Collett said. “I’m really happy I was cast in this because I’m typically in musicals – this is my first straight play – so it has been a challenge but a good one.”

Collett said her character is relatable while also unconventional.

“I’ve never been married, but of course, we’ve all gone through heartbreaks and things of that nature, and I am midlife — I just turned 41 – so 40 was a little rough, and I can identify with losing it a little bit at family reunions, the questions that are always asked and the rumors that always go around,” Collett said. “She was definitely fun to portray in the relatable sense, and then bringing some of those little eccentricities to her character was a lot of fun.”

Kaitlin Lantz plays the role of Jimmie Wyvette Verdeen, and this will be her second BCT performance.

“My first show was last October when we did ‘Clue,’ so some of the people I work with in this play, I worked with on “Clue,’ and they were fun to work with, plus ‘Clue’ was just so much fun I wanted to do another one,” Lantz said. “It’s hilarious; you have these country folks who fight and bicker. It’s just a funny show, and I think people would really enjoy it.”

Jessica Jenkins plays the role of Peaches Verdeen Belrose, and she has appeared in several BCT productions.

BCT actors Greg Phillips, who plays Newt Blaylock, and Jessica Jenkins, who plays Peaches Verdeen Belrose, on the cast’s final dress rehearsal night.

“Most recently, I was Scarlet in ‘Clue,’ and I’ve been involved in BCT for a number of years,” Jenkins said. “I’ve just always loved theater; it’s one of those things that centers me and calms me. As stressful as it is sometimes, it’s probably one of the greatest things I’ve been involved with in my entire life.”

Jenkin said she enjoyed bringing her bold character to life.

“I love my character; she’s sassy, and she wants to bring everybody together, but you can tell she’s rough, and she’s not going to let anybody get the best of her or the people she loves,” Jenkins said. “This play is a great way to have fun and laugh about a family that, in many ways, may be like everybody’s family. You don’t have to be from Texas or any of the towns we mentioned here. I guarantee there is at least one character in this that will remind you of somebody you’re related to.”

BCT board member Dannie Stiles BCT said the Colonial Arts Center has come a long way since their last production.

“Even just the lobby area has changed so much,” Stiles said. “We have a concession area, and this has come a long way. It’s nice to see the community project getting close to completion.”  

He also encouraged anyone interested in sponsoring a show to email  buckhannonct@gmail.com for more information.

Leah Propst plays CeeCee in ‘The Red Velvet Cake War.’
Aunt LaMerle has words with Sheriff Grover Lout, played by Eric Jett.

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