Art reflects real-life headlines in dramedy about a baker torn between love and faith

Who: PlayMakers Repertory Company
What: Mainstage production of “The Cake” by Bekah Brunstetter, directed by Jeffrey Meanza
When: September 13 to October 1; Opening Night & Press Opening Saturday, September 16
Where: Center for Dramatic Art, 120 Country Club Road, Chapel Hill, NC
Tickets: Regular: $15-$57; Students: $10 with valid UNC photo ID

(Chapel Hill, NC, August 23, 2017)—PlayMakers Repertory Company proudly presents the regional premiere of “The Cake” by Carolina alumna Bekah Brunstetter (NBC’s This is Us writer/producer), on stage from September 13 to October 1, 2017. The production is directed by Carolina alumnus Jeffrey Meanza, who returns to PlayMakers to make his Mainstage directorial debut.

“The Cake” is a timely, charm-filled and compassionate exploration of what happens when faith and family collide. Della is legendary for baking mouth watering cakes—she’s even won a spot on the Great American Baking Show! So she’s overjoyed when Jen, the young woman she helped raise, returns home to Winston-Salem and asks Della to bake her wedding cake. But our star baker is forced to reexamine some of her deeply held beliefs when she finds that Jen’s partner is another woman. Food, faith, and family loyalty take center stage in this paradigm-shifting comedy that will leave audiences hungry for more.

“From the time I started writing this play, I hoped that PlayMakers would stage it. I very much wanted to see it performed in North Carolina because it was important to me to humanize conservative values in ‘The Cake,’” says Brunstetter. “Della is a conservative heroine who goes on this incredible journey of self-reflection, about where her values come from, and how to live in truth with two very important parts of her life. On a personal note, I was part of the backstage crew for PlayMakers when I was an undergrad Drama major at UNC-Chapel Hill and I really found my voice as a playwright there!”

“Directing ‘The Cake’ at PlayMakers is a homecoming in so many ways,” says Meanza, who served for several seasons as Associate Artistic Director, directed “Guys and Dolls” for PlayMakers’ 2015 Summer Youth Conservatory and acted in numerous productions from 2007–2015. “I’ve known Bekah for years, as she and I are both UNC-Chapel Hill alumni. She has written a smart, thoughtful and funny story that I am proud to help bring to a part of the country where we both have deep personal and professional roots. Audiences will laugh, probably cry, and ultimately root for every single one of the play’s multi-dimensional characters.”

“I am thrilled to open our 2017/18 Mainstage season with a timely play set right here in North Carolina, told by the eminently talented native North Carolinian, Bekah Brunstetter,” says Vivienne Benesch, PlayMakers’ Producing Artistic Director. “As polarizing issues like marriage equality continue to play out all over the country, “The Cake” couldn’t be on our stage at a better time. The magic of tackling such important issues through live theatre is that we are able to grapple with them on a human scale, as true-to-life characters– on both sides of the proverbial aisle– show us that there are complex, well-intentioned individuals trying to figure out what’s right at the heart of most conflicts. It’s relevant, entertaining, great theater that takes us to the edge of new possibilities, and that’s what PlayMakers is all about this season.”

“The Cake” features PlayMakers acting company members Julia Gibson as Della (recently on stage in “My Fair Lady” and “Twelfth Night”), Jenny Latimer as Jen (recently in “Twelfth Night” and “The May Queen”), and Christine Mirzayan as Macy (recently in “The Crucible” and “My Fair Lady”). Returning to the PlayMakers stage is Triangle-favorite Derrick Ivey as Tim (credits include “An Enemy of the People” at PlayMakers and “God of Carnage” at Theatre Raleigh).

The Creative Team of “The Cake” includes: Jeffrey Meanza (Director), Jan Chambers (Scenic Designer), Junghyun Georgia Lee (Costume Designer), Burke Brown (Lighting Designer), Bruno Louchouarn (Sound Designer), Mark Perry (Dramaturg), John Patrick (Voice Coach), Elizabeth Ray (Stage Manager), and Charles K. Bayang (Assistant Stage Manager).
“The Cake” is recommended for audiences 16 and older.
For information and to purchase tickets, call 919.962.7529 or visit playmakersrep.org. Individual ticket prices for “The Cake” start at $15.

Performance and Event Schedule:
August 28, 7:00 p.m. — “In the Wings” presented by PlayMakers and the Durham County Library. Cast and creative team members discuss the play at the South Regional branch, 4505 S. Alston Ave., Durham.
February 22, 6:30 p.m., Center for Dramatic Art — “The Vision Series—Directors in Conversation,” a behind-the-scenes preview with members of the creative team, moderated by Producing Artistic Director, Vivienne Benesch. The event is free and open to the public. Join us for a cup of coffee and great conversation about the vision for the show, including a sneak peek at the set in progress. Members of the media are invited to cover the Vision Series. Photography, videography, lights and flashes are not restricted.
September 13-15, 7:30 p.m. — Preview performances
September 16, 7:30 p.m. — Opening Night & Press Opening
September 19, 7:30 p.m. — All-access performance for attendees with special needs, with sign language interpretation and audio description
September 19, 7:30 p.m. — Community Night at PlayMakers. General admission seating, with all tickets $15 ($10 for students with UNC ID)
September 20 & 24 — Free post-show discussions with members of the creative team and cast
September 30, 7:30 p.m. — Open captioned performance, with dialog, stage direction, and sound effects communicated on a “universal access” live caption unit

About PlayMakers Repertory Company:
PlayMakers is the professional theater in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina’s premier resident theater company for more than 40 years. PlayMakers has been named one of the “best regional theatres in America.”

PlayMakers Contacts: 
For press information and interviews, contact Diana Pineda, Director of Sales and Marketing, at dmpineda@email.unc.edu or 919.962.7114

For photos or poster art and other PlayMakers questions, please contact Rosalie Preston, Associate Director of Marketing, at rosalie@unc.edu or 919.962.6997