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Augusta Gus Richardson is cooking up a busy life.
Shes a successful food columnist who has penned 14 cookbooks and theres another in the oven. Shes been the head chef judge at the Betty Crocker bake-off for five years in a row, and now shes being offered her own television cooking show.
I could be the next Julia Childs, she exclaims.
Problem is, this cooking star has stage fright. Microphones and cameras both plentiful in the world of television cooking shows make her freeze like gelato.
Get ready to tag along and see whether Gus is able to cook up her dream in the Whidbey Playhouse Production of Cookin with Gus, which opens Friday. The tasty comedy features cooking columnist Gus Richardson (Jennifer Skiff) her longtime spouse Walter (Dave Myers), Gus slick-haired, overly tanned agent Bernie (Jim Otruba) and the Robertsons free-spirited neighbor Carmen (Julie McNutt).
Director Linda Walbeck said that, at the heart of it, Cookin with Gus, has little to do with cooking at all.
Its a love story, she said. Its a story of romance in which people are trying to get to where they can realize their life dream.
Its what happens when those dreams collide that brings the humor to this lovely comedy tale.
Shes happy doing what shes doing, Skiff said of Gus. But she has to take a look at her life and what she could be missing.
Skiff is making her stage debut in Cookin with Gus. She decided to take the plunge after discovering a few years back that her mom had done community theater.
Its been delightful, Skiff said. I couldnt have asked for better people to spend my time up on stage with.
Walbeck said playwright Jim Brochu makes the actors jobs easier thanks to characters who are so believable.
Bernies kind of like the alter ego of me because he says whats on his mind and gets away with it, Otruba said. He just expects everyone to listen to him.
Hes so fast-talking he prefers single letters over using whole words.
Whos the BLCITWWW?
Translation: Whos the best little cook in the whole wide world?
Then theres Carmen (Julie McNutt), Gussies neighborly advisor whom Walter advises cant be shuffling a full tarot deck.
Authentic gypsy princesses do not wear polyester, he said.
While Gussie claims Carmen is uniquely in touch with the universe, Walter retorts that shes uniquely in touch with our liquor cabinet.
When it comes to cooking, Gussies got a one-track mind all cooking, no Walter.
Now its always Julia first and me later, Walter said of Gus infatuation with famed cook Julia Childs.
Gussie is quick to point out hes also changed since their early dating days.
Your ties got skinnier and your wasteline? not so much, she laughs.
After 18 years together, Gus continues to change the topic when the subject of marriage is brought up, and Walter continues to change the topic when the subject of his net worth is brought up.
How much did you make on the patent of that valve you invented anyway, she asks.
But Gus is about to get even more caught up with her career as she receives an offer for her own cooking show. She agrees to try out making a test shoot for the television big wigs, but ends up choking on her own stage fright. So, with her TV hopes on the line, whats hypnosis-knowing Walter supposed to do? Let his girl flounder? Or is their relationship the bigger fish to fry?
Skiff said the show is full of laughter and romance all delivered with the flavor of slapstick and the energy of physical comedy.
The cast members have all meshed well and theatrically they have all expanded and stepped out of the box, Walbeck said. Its definitely going to be a fun show.