NEW PORT RICHEY — For years, cooking enthusiast Augusta "Gussie" Richardson has talked about cooking, shopped local stores for something new and different to cook, and written book after book about cooking.
But her big ambition has always been to have her own television cooking show. That's despite the pleadings of her adoring, wealthy, live-in boyfriend, Walter, who for the last 18 years has been begging her to marry him and travel the world in style.
But, at last, it seems that Gussie's go-get-'em agent, Bernie, has landed her a dream gig — her own TV show, to be called Cookin' with Gus.
So what's a girl to do? Give up her dream or give up her guy?
That's the dilemma in award-winning playwright/actor/director Jim Brochu's first play, the 1980 comedy Cookin' with Gus, playing April 15 through May 15 at Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre in downtown New Port Richey.
Longtime followers of Ferraro's productions may remember the play's first outing at his Angel "garden cafe" Theatre in Holiday in the mid 1990s. Although Ferraro has presented mostly new-to-us shows at his current venue, requests from some of those longtime fans, the success of another do-over, Holy Cannoli!, and the overall appeal of the Cookin' with Gus plot prompted the former Broadway performer to bring it to his newest theater.
It stars Jessica Glass (Nicolette D'Angelo in Holy Cannoli!) as Gussie, the aspiring TV star, and Rand Smith (STAR Award as Valjean in Les Miserables at Francis Wilson Playhouse) as her frustrated lover.
Joining them is Linda Rosenfeld (Godspell at Detective Dinner Theater) as Carmen, Gussie's gypsy-Jewish neighbor, who is an aspiring bartender, and Jimmy Chang (various theaters throughout Tampa Bay area) as Bernie Luskin, Gussie's pushy agent.
Everything seems to be coming up roses for Gussie, until she gets before the TV camera and freezes in sheer terror, unable to speak a word. That's when her beau and her bestie pitch in to "help" in their own ways, with hilarious results.
After its Los Angeles debut two days before Christmas in 1980, Cookin' with Gus has been produced around the world in hundreds of theaters.