GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Some comedy plays take the energy level up a notch. One is “The Red Velvet Cake Wars” as presented by Green Bay Community Theater.

The intensity is because of a bet. The scrappy heroine has put up her house as her stake in a baking contest against her uppity aunt, who would give up a beloved family quilt should she lose.

This over-the-top premise is concocted by the prolific comedic enterprise of Jones Hope Wooten – master of making merry with intricate stories with a Southern flavor.

This time, Wisconsinites adopt Texas accents that go along with a bunch of colorful character names. The bake-off foes, for instance, are Gaynelle Verdeen Bodeen and LaMerle Verdeen Minshew.

Cee Cee Windham has a haphazard TV cooking show that comes into play.

Also in play(fulness) is Sheriff Grover Lout, a kind of Texan Keystone Kop.

And then there’s one-eyed Newt Blaylock, who keeps losing his one-size-too-small glass eye.

Catch the drift? This is a for-the-fun-of-it trip to the theater.

Astute director Kristi Skrinska has her eager players wound up for action. The authors give most everyone a juicy line to deliver. And then there’s also a sight gag about earthy Uncle Aubrey Verdeen getting his 90-year-old mojo working over his perceived vixen, Mama Doll Hargis.

Generating many sparks is Jodi Angeli as the central character. Gaynelle Verdeen Bodeen has become the family pariah for going ballistic when her husband acquired a girlfriend and she tried her hand at running him over with a large vehicle. The anger in that is the catalyst for Jodi Angeli to crack a whip in comically intense performance.

Woven into an intricate web of comic mayhem are Gaynelle’s cousins played with sparks of their own by Eileen Kozlovsky (Peaches Verdeen Belrose) and Judy Patefield (Jimmie Wyvette Verdeen).

A bit of author playfulness is Peaches is a cosmetologist for the deceased… you know, for funeral homes. That connection comes into play when Peaches orders a wig for a nearly-departed client, and the wig is delivered by the one-eyed guy (Newt Blaylock) who turns on an assortment of women.

Very, very much is woven through the script – stuff about baton twirling and a midnight robbery of a time capsule and a morbid family picture-taker and unattached women seeking attachment and family feuding and a Great Dane loose in the kitchen and much more worth a quip or two.

The cake? Yes, it’s a source of pride in certain families – not mine, so its tradition in the play is news to me. The aunt, LaMerle Verdeen Minshew (played with loft by Lina Green) is queen of the red velvet cake-making in the family. Gaynelle is a raw rookie, so her frenzy is fires up all sorts of comic desperation.

The show teems with stuff to laugh about and with. It’s mostly frivolous, but there’s a bit of a message about hanging on and rolling with the punches. Thursday’s opening-night audience was much larger than usual since the gut-punch time of COVID-19, and laughter bubbled and burst.


Running time: Two hours, 20 minutes

Remaining performances: 7:30 p.m. April 22; 4 p.m. April 23; 7:30 p.m. April 27-29; 4 p.m. April 30-May 1


Creative: Playwrights – Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, Jamie Wooten (Jones Hope Wooten); director – Kristie Skrinska; assistant director – Kris Holly; stage manager – Steven Trout; production manager – Lina Green; set construction – Dean Burdick; fight coordinator – Mike Palubicki; build team – Dean Burdick, Kristin Shevy, Kris Holly; lighting and sound designer – Kaitlin Honkanen; set dresser – Patricia Grimm; prop master – Karen Konshak; costume designer – Dana Cordy; assistant costume designer – Anna Stempa; hair and make-up – Jackie Ploor; floor manager – Kathy Treankler


Gaynelle Verdeen Bodeen – Jodi Angeli

Peaches Verdeen Belrose – Eileen Kozlovsky

Jimmie Wyvette Verdeen – Judy Patefield

LaMerle Verdeen Minshew – Lina Green

Cee Cee Windham – Jami Thompson

Uncle Aubrey Verdeen – Randy Vogels

Newt Blaylock – Josiah Kaliq

Elsa Dowdall – Nichole Hood

Purvis Verdeen – Lee T. Kerwin

Mama Doll Hargis – Denise Markowski

Bitsy Hargis – Deb Oettinger

Sheriff Grover Lout – Jacob Smither


NEXT: Reading of “Once upon a bride there was a forest…” by Kristen Palmer, 7:30 p.m. May 10.

THE VENUE: Located at 122 N. Chestnut Ave. on Green Bay’s near west side, Green Bay Community Theater is one of the few community theaters that owns its performance space – and rehearsal space under the same roof. Stability is a big benefit. A landmark on Green Bay’s west side, the 193-seat Robert Lee Brault Playhouse features elements of an earlier time as a church, built in 1854 (the current backstage dressing room), 1895 (auditorium) and 1911 (today’s Community Room). The most obvious remnants are the church’s peaked side-wall windows with stained glass that is covered. High-up triangular windows still contain stained glass, and their patterns can be seen playing on sunny days when the troupe has matinees. The auditorium includes a 30 by 23-foot open-end stage with no stage curtain. The troupe has remodeled some portions of the building with medieval touches, but the seating area retains elements of a church. The theater includes wooden arches with decorative geometric designs on the ends and exposed beams in the sharply angled ceiling. The stage front consists of woodwork of repeated arches that looks to be repurposed wainscoting from other parts of the building. The troupe owns the building, which became its home in 1966. The Community Room serves as a gathering space for audiences prior to a performance and at intermission and for board and other internal meetings.

THE PERSON: Larger-than-life personality Robert Lee Brault was a longtime Green Bay Community Theater actor, director, scenic designer and managing director. He and his wife, Rita Brault, were mainstays from the time the troupe performed at various locations through the purchase of the present playhouse. Bob Brault died Nov. 1, 2015, in Florida at age 88. The troupe has established a special programming and education fund in his name.