Faith, family and frosting collide in a touching and timely new play by Bekah Brunstetter (NBC’s This Is Us). The Echo Theater Company continues its20th Anniversary Season with the world premiere of The Cake.Jennifer Chambersdirects for a July 1opening at Atwater Village Theatre.
Debra Jo Rupp (That ’70s Show) stars as Della, a baker who makes cakes, not judgment calls — those she leaves to her husband (Joe Hart, recently seen on Broadway in Bonnie and Clyde). But when Jen, the girl Della helped raise (Shannon Lucio ofAmerican Horror Storyand True Blood), comes back home to North Carolina to get married and the fiancé turns out to be another fiancée (A Noise Within resident artist Carolyn Ratteray), Della’s life gets turned upside down. She can’t really make a cake for such a wedding, can she? For the first time in her life, Della has to think for herself.
“This play is my attempt to humanize conservative values,”
says Brunstetter, who hails from Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
“I feel there’s a lack of empathy, especially in our liberal pocket, a sense of dismissiveness towards people we don’t agree with. There are people in my life who have these values, who I love, who I am always trying to understand.”
“Whenever I’m trying to figure out how to have a conversation, I write a play about it. Plus – I love baking shows. I love eating cakes and baking cakes.”
Following its world premiere at the Echo, The Cake is scheduled to open at Playmakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill, NC in Sept. 2017; Warehouse Theatre in Greenville, SC in Dec. 2017; La Jolla Playhouse in Feb. 2018; and Houston’s Alley Theater in June, 2018.
According to Brunstetter,
“This play was born in the Echo Theater’s Playwright’s LAB and wouldn’t be what it is without their support. I rewrite a lot during the rehearsal process for a first production, so it’s also wonderful to premiere the play in the city where I live and work.”
The cast also includes the voice of Morrison Keddie as the host of the Great American Baking Show. The creative team includes set designer Pete Hickok, lighting designer Pablo Santiago, sound designer Jeff Gardner, costume designerElena Flores and photographer Darrett Sanders. Casting is by Meg Fister. Natalie Figaredo is the production stage manager, and Jesse Cannady and Nadia Marina produce for TheEcho Theater Company.
Bekah Brunstetter’s other plays include Going to a Place Where You AlreadyAre (South Coast Repertory), The Oregon Trail (Portland Center Stage Fall 2016, O’Neill Playwrights Conference; Flying V) Cutie and Bear (Roundabout commission), A Long and Happy Life (Naked Angels commission), Be A Good Little Widow (Ars Nova, Collaboraction, The Old Globe), Oohrah! (Atlantic Theater Company, Steppenwolf Garage, Finborough Theater/London), Nothing is the End of the World(Except for the End of the World) (Waterwell), House of Home (Williamstown Theatre Festival) and MissLilly Gets Boned (Ice Factory Festival). She is an alumna of the CTG Writers Group, Primary Stages Writers Group, Ars Nova Play Group, The Playwright’s Realm and the Women’s Project Lab. She has previously written for MTV (Underemployed and I Just Want My Pants Back), ABC Family’s Switched at Birth and the Starz series American Gods.She is currently a producer on NBC’s This is Us.
Dedicated to producing new work, the multiple award-winning Echo Theater Company was anointed “Best Bet for Ballsy Original Plays” by the LA Weekly and was a recipient of a 2016 “Kilroy Cake Drop” – one of only 13 theaters in the country to be surprised by cakes to honor the efforts they are making to produce women and trans writers. Under the leadership of founding artistic director Chris Fields, the Echo has introduced Los Angeles to playwrights such as David Lindsay-Abaire, Adam Rapp, Sarah Ruhl, Adam Bock and Miki Johnson among others. The company is also recognized for its acting ensemble; in the Los Angeles Times, theater critic Charles McNulty wrote, “Echo Theater Company, which has cultivated a community of top flight actors, would be my go-to place in Los Angeles for symbiotic ensemble acting.” KCRW’s Anthony Byrnes stated, “It’s time to start paying attention to the Echo Theater Company… The company has made bold choices and backed them up.” Last season’s production of Dry Land by Ruby Rae Spiegel received the Ovation Award for Best Production and was recently remounted at Culver City’s Kirk Douglas Theatre by Center Theatre Group as part of “Block Party.” The Echo Theater Company is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary.
The Cake runs July 1 through Aug. 6, with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 4 p.m.; andMondays at 8 p.m. Three preview performances are set for Wed., June 28; Thurs., June 29; and Fri., June 30, all at 8 p.m. Tickets are $34 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and $20 on Mondays; preview performances are pay-what-you-can. A “community night” on Sunday, July 9 at 4 p.m. is sponsored by McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams andCheerwine; tickets for that performance are $10, and include a post-show “ice cream social” with the cast. Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Ave in Los Angeles, CA 90039. On-site parking is free. For reservations and information, call (310) 307-3753 or go to www.EchoTheaterCompany.com.
Details for Calendar Listings
World premiere of The Cake — Debra Jo Rupp (That ’70s Show) stars as Della, a baker who makes cakes, not judgment calls — those she leaves to her husband. But when the girl she helped raise comes back home to North Carolina to get married, and the fiancé is actually another fiancée, Della’s life gets turned upside down. She can’t really make a cake for such a wedding, can she? For the first time in her life, Della has to think for hesrself. A world premiere play from Bekah Brunstetter (NBC’s This Is Us).
• Written by Bekah Brunstetter
• Directed by Jennifer Chambers
• Starring Joe Hart, Morrison Keddie, Shannon Lucio, Carolyn Ratteray and Debra Jo Rupp
• Presented by The Echo Theater Company
Previews: June 28, June 29, June 30
Performances: July 1 – Aug. 6
• Wednesday at 8 p.m.: June 28 ONLY (preview)
• Thursday at 8 p.m.: June 29 ONLY (preview)
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: June 30 (preview); July 7, 14, 21, 28; Aug. 4
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: July 1 (opening night), 8, 15, 22, 29; Aug. 5
• Sundays at 4 p.m.: July 2, 9*, 16, 23, 30; Aug. 6
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: July 3, 10, 17, 24, 31
*A “community night” on Sunday, July 9 at 4 p.m. is sponsored by McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams and Cheerwine; tickets are $10 and include a post-performance “Ice Cream Social” with the cast.
Echo Theater Company
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays: $34 (except Sunday, July 9)
Community Night on Sunday, July 9 at 4 p.m.: $10 (sponsored by McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams and Cheerwine; includes post-performance “ice cream social” with the cast)
FREE in the Atwater Xing lot one block south of the theater