• Gaynell Verdeen (Ryvers Stewart), Jimmie Wyvette (Ann Williams), and Peaches Verdeen (Paige Chandler) share a story during the Red Velvet play. Photo by Ben Katz
    Gaynell Verdeen (Ryvers Stewart), Jimmie Wyvette (Ann Williams), and Peaches Verdeen (Paige Chandler) share a story during the Red Velvet play. Photo by Ben Katz

SCOUTING AROUND: Family, fun and cake at Red Velvet War

    Andrews – For the first time, the annual dessert fundraiser at the Valleytown Cultural Arts Center will span three days, providing more opportunities for people to support the arts.
    The ACT2 Players will present the comedy The Red Velvet Cake War at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday as well as at 3 p.m. Sunday, while supporters enjoy desserts created by Andrews High School culinary arts students. The play, billed as a “riotously funny Southern-fried comedy,” revolves around the Verdeen cousins and the antics surrounding their family reunion, including a bet on who can make the best red velvet cake.
    “The things that go on are hilarious,” said Lori Coffey, a board member of the Valleytown Cultural Arts & Historical Society and an actor in the show.
    Funds raised from the show will support this year’s Community Youth Players and ACT2 productions as well as the cultural arts center. In past years, some people told Coffey they wanted to see the show, but were not available for the one Sunday performance for the fundraiser.
    “We decided this year, we’re going to try three nights,” she said.
    The only difficult part was for the culinary students who are preparing the food, Coffey said. They had to plan for treats they could supply for three performances instead of just one. Planned desserts include peanut butter log cookies, goat cheese truffles and, of course, red velvet gooey butter cookies.
    “They came up with some great things,” she said. “We’re excited about the variety.”
    B.J. McFalls of the Licklog Players is directing the show. This is the first time she has directed a show at the Valleytown Cultural Arts Center on Chestnut Street downtown.
    “I’ve been wanting to come here and direct a play for Lori,” McFalls said. “I love comedies, and I’ve done a couple by (Jessie) Jones, (Nicholas) Hope and (Jamie) Wooten. I never pass up an opportunity to direct one of their shows.”
    In the plays written by Jones, Hope and Wooten, she said even characters with smaller roles stand out.
    The play stars Ryvers Stewart, Paige Chandler and Ann Williams as the Verdeen cousins – Gaynelle, Peaches and Jimmie Wynette. Their Aunt LaMerle will be played by Coffey, who is taking a break from directing for this production.
    Others in the play are Kay Thomas as CeeCee Windham, Wayne Roshaven as Uncle Aubrey Verdeen, Vickie Benedict as Bitsy Hargis, Eric West as Newt Blaylock, Mike Roberts as Sheriff Grover Lout/Purvis Verdeen, Taylor Swain as Elsa Dowdall and Nancy Davis as Mama Doll Hargis. Thomas, Roshaven and Davis are members of the Licklog Players joining this production.
    Swain is returning to the stage in Andrews in her first ACT2 production as the psychologist checking on Gaynelle’s sanity – a role she said is much different than any other she has played.
    She first performed in the Community Youth Players production of Ever After in 2013, when she was a student at Hiwassee Dam High School, and has performed in the youth players’ Christmas show. She has also participated in productions at Gardner Webb University.
    Swain said she feels she fits better in with the adult group of actors than she did in the youth theater.
    “I definitely like being on this level,” she said.
    Swain is not the youngest actor in the show. Stewart is a student at Tri-County Community College and at 18 is the youngest in the cast, even though she is playing a 40-year-old.
    “It does put on some pressure because I want to show that I can do it,” she said.
    This is Stewart’s third time performing at cultural arts center, but her first time in a lead role. “She’s on almost every scene,” she said. “It’s really exciting.”
    Stewart said she likes playing Gaynelle because she’s an interesting character on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
    The play is geared more toward an adult audience, Coffey said, and would probably have a PG-13 rating. Tickets are available for $15 each. For details, call 361-2781 or visit vcahs.com.

Women’s Club serves Sweetheart Breakfast
    The Konnaheeta Women’s Club is holding its annual Sweetheart Breakfast from 8-10:30 a.m. Saturday in the Andrews First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall. All proceeds from the event go toward the Ruth Starr Pullium Scholarship Fund.
    Pullium, a longtime member of the women’s club, taught second grade in Andrews for 38 years. She passed away in 1979 at age 74. “She did a lot for kids,” said her nephew, Jerry Pullium.
    The scholarship is administered by Tri-County Community College. The club provides a $1,000 scholarship each year, primarily from the funds raised at the breakfast, President Sherry McCollum said.
    “It’s important we help our students as much as we can,” McCollum said. “It’s a good community project.”
    Supporters will be able to select between a variety of breakfast foods on a buffet. Sausage, bacon, grits, biscuits, pancakes and scrambled eggs are planned, as well as juice and coffee.
    Participants may also participate in a 50/50 drawing during the breakfast.
    Tickets for the breakfast are $8 for adults, $4 for ages 10 and younger. Tickets will be available at the door, but presale tickets are available by calling McCollum, who works in Murphy, at 361-3485 or Imagean Adams in Andrews at 361-0625.
    Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.

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