OnSite Theatre, the city’s only site-specific theatre company, produced its first ever family-friendly production earlier this month -- a fanciful folk tale written by local playwright and actor Nancy Bell, and in typical OnSite fashion, “The Runaway Cupcake” was presented at SweetArt in the Tower Grove area of the city.
After the introduction of our baker (Patrick Blindauer) and his assistant (Kenyata Tatum), we learn that his shop is in debt to a bill collector who comes to get what he is owed along with a leather-clad “terrifying assistant” (Maria Mohr) -- complete with boots, shades and a pink baseball bat. While the baker tries to buy himself a little more time with the collector, a mother (Michelle Hand) and her spoiled daughter (Ivy Bell Reed) come in to order a huge batch of cupcakes for a birthday party. The baker figures (with the help of some math skills from the audience), that the order would cover his debt. But with a toss of a little flour, one of the cupcakes magically comes to life (Hannah Donaldson), running in and out of the store, wreaking a gleeful havoc.
Meanwhile, a hungry mother and daughter (Katy Keating and Reagan Austin), seemingly from another time and place appear, with no idea where their next meal will come from. The “have nots” soon meet up with the “haves” and a valuable lesson nicely comes together about the hunger suffered by families in our own backyards, wastefulness and generosity.
Under Shanara Gabrielle’s direction, the whole of the cast is wonderfully engaging. Tatum is our amiable narrator, who seems to have an eye towards where the tale is headed, and Blindauer charms as the baker trying desperately to cover his debt. Keating and Austin make a wonderful pair as the poor mother and daughter, reminding us that hunger isn’t an isolated condition that happens in faraway places. Hand is spot on as a mother juggling tasks and Reed perfectly portrays a demanding spoiled kid, and gratifyingly comes around when she meets those in need. Kuhlman makes a good impression as a forgiving bill collector and Mohr pulls no punches as his adorable enforcer. Special shout out to Hannah Frey as the “Fiddler,” who adds a perfect musical backdrop for the proceedings.
Sadly, this production has concluded, so I can’t advise you to check it out, but I can advise you to keep an ear to the ground for OnSite’s next production, because this company always provides a unique experience. It was great to see them break new ground. There were also delicious cupcakes for the audience at the end. Yum!
THE RUNAWAY CUPCAKE: A PLAY ABOUT EATING FOR FAMILIES WHO EAT
Written by Nancy Bell
Directed by Shanara Gabrielle
SweetArt, 2203 South 39th Street
Run complete | tickets: $12 - $20
Hannah Frey (Fiddler), Kenyata Tatum (Baker’s Assistant), Patrick Blindauer (Baker), Andrew Kuhlman (Bill Collector), Maria Mohr (Terrifying Assistant), Hannah Donaldson (Runaway Cupcake), Reagan Austin (Hungry Girl), Katy Keating (Hungry Mother), Michelle Hand (Girl’s Mother), Ivy Bell Reed (Girl).
Costume design by Christina Sittser; Dramaturg, Dan Rubin.