Rivendell Theatre Ensemble presents the world premiere of AMERICAN WEE-PIE. Zed’s mom died. He returns to his childhood home to bury her. He runs into Linz, a former classmate. She happily rattles on about the comings and goings of others from their youth. He doesn’t remember any of the people. He is not connected to that past. And then, he realizes that he’s not connected to his present either. His life is unsatisfying. His presence often goes unnoticed. When Linz invites him to her cupcake emporium, they are all surprised to learn Zed has discerning tastebuds. He has a natural gift in pastries. AMERICAN WEE-PIE is a scrumptious tale of discovering personal passion in a bowl of batter.
The team, that gave us “The Walls,” has baked up an original, homespun goodie. Playwright Lisa Dillman and Director Megan Carney are together again. Dillman engages with a coming of (middle) age story. The tale is a buttercream charmer. Her characters are real AND quirky. Her dialogue is snappy and witty. In particular, Dillman has one of the funniest jokes that I’ve heard on stage in a long time. I’ve repeated it several times since the show. What makes that joke even more hilarious is Kurt Brocker’s (Zed) purposely beaten-down-man delivery. Brocker is one of the five ingredients that makes this show simply delicious.
Carney uses Dillman’s recipe to masterfully blend the cast together while maintaining their distinct individuality. The ensemble, Brocker, Jennifer Pompa, Mark Ulrich, Jane Baxter Miller, Keith Kupferer, is a perfectly balanced concoction. There is plenty of humor and moments of sweet delight. Brocker captivates as the forgotten man who has an awakening. A zany Pompa brings the frothy and upbeat hilarity. Pompa contrasts her cupcake zest with deadpan zingers. Ulrich is the affected French pastry chef. Ulrich increasingly amuses as his character reveals his true ambition. What makes this such a ‘cupcakes for the soul’ kind of show is all the characters get to follow their bliss in varying degrees of transformation. Miller, as the bossy sister, and Kupferer, in multiple roles, layer on the comedy and believability of small town living.
In this drab, dark Chicago winter, we are all looking for light and un-guilty pleasures. This show is it. It has all the sweetness of a delectable dessert without the calories. AMERICAN WEE-PIE taste like a winner!
Believing Keith Kupferer’s roles were played by different actors, Ellen describes it with ‘warm, flavorful, and fulfilling.’
Running Time: Two hours and ten minutes includes an intermission
At Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge
Written by Lisa Dillman
Directed by Megan Carney
Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm
Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm
Thru February 16th
Buy Tickets at www.RivendellTheatre.org
Photo by Joe Mazza/Brave Lux