A Question of Pie is an old-fashioned western melodrama which continues the story of the three Pie Sisters and their town’s annual pie contest, the Pie Palooza. Besta Pie, Lotta Pie, and Honey Pie are anticipating the event with high enthusiasm this year. However, a cagey new competitor has come to town who happens to be their rather unwelcome cousin: Sweetie Pie. Sheriff Rolland Dough is still quite smitten with Honey Pie but plans to perform his duties as head judge of the Pie Palooza to the best of his ability.
The villains (Mincemeat and Crusty) are up to their old, sly tricks in their attempt to win the contest, and the Pie Angels (Strawberry-Rhubarb, Peach, Cherry, and Cheese) try to unravel all the trouble. As the Narrator keeps things rolling, rumors begin to fly, arguments are sparked, and questions arise about that deeply controversial topic: pie crust.
An ordinary small town in the wild, wild west
12 performers, but flexible (see Production Notes)
7 Females, 2 Male, and 3 Female or Male
Approximately 30 minutes without an intermission
Production Notes (included with the playscript)
In all three of the Pie Palooza plays, there are a lot of opportunities to get some laughs from the audience, so it’s just a matter of your cast members hamming it up. Both Besta Pie and Lotta Pie need to be played with a lot of snippy attitude, while Honey Pie should be performed with a certain sweetness and calm.
The Narrator needs to be played by someone who is comfortable facing the audience and talking to them directly for almost all of their lines. They also need to master the art of the “stage whisper”— a volume everyone can hear but clearly delivered in a conspiratorial tone.
Sheriff Rolland Dough is in love and needs to act like it. Any sappy expression or lovesick gaze he can bestow on Honey Pie will get a laugh from the audience. It also wouldn’t hurt for him to go down on one knee and put his hat to his heart when he proposes.
Mincemeat and Crusty are two more characters designed to be comedy relief. Mincemeat should appear confident one minute and frustrated the next, while Crusty just needs to be willing to look as dumb as a fencepost.
Every one of the Pie Angel Society characters are fun with lots of potential for non-verbal humor. Eye rolls from Strawberry Rhubarb, hair flips from Peach, thoughtful frowns from Cherry, and depressed shrugs from Cheese would all add to the humor of their scene.
The script is written for a cast of 12, but if you need to add a character or two, that’s easy enough to do with the Pie Angel Society Group. Lemon, Pumpkin, or Pecan would all be great additions! Add a few lines to Scene 3 for these extra characters, and you’re done. You could also add a villain--Creamy was supposed to be sick, but doesn’t have to be. It would be easy enough to drop that reference in the narrator’s line in the beginning of Scene 2, have Mincemeat insist that both Crusty and Creamy come up with ideas, and then split the ideas between the two sidekicks in Scene 4.
If you have fewer cast members than what the play calls for, you can always take out a Pie Angel and add a line or two to the script that makes an excuse as to why they’re not there when Strawberry-Rhubarb performs her roll call.
If you’ve performed either of the other plays in the Pie Palooza trilogy, then you can recycle any stage pieces you used for those. There are no changes. A Wild West town backdrop (jail, saloon, general store, library, etc.) and a long wooden bench center stage are all you need. You can have curtains, or not. Or you can simply go with a plain curtain backdrop dressed up in any fashion you choose. The play is short, so keep things simple.
Again, since the characters in all three of the Pie Palooza plays stay essentially the same, the costumes do, too. If you’re starting fresh, the Narrator needs some sort of western attire (plaid shirt, hillbilly hat) and the Pie Sisters are in some lil’ old lady get-ups (flowered dresses, bonnets or caps, granny shoes). The villains can be in all black or simply black cowboy hats with curly-cue moustaches drawn on. The Sheriff should have a cowboy hat and a pin-on deputy star to look official. And with the Pie Angels, the possibilities are endless. Our Pie Angel costumes became large tent dresses of various fruit-patterned fabrics with hula hoops stitched into the bottom hem at about knee-height. On their heads, they wore hats made out of white batting that tied under their chins with ribbon to resemble a dollop of whip cream. The overall effect was that they looked like their own pie in a pan. A simpler way to go is to have them dress them in bright, solid-colored sweatshirts, t-shirts, or dresses according to the flavor of their pie. Instead of whip cream hats, they could wear pipe cleaner halos. You could pin a paper version of their respective fruit to their clothing, create papier mache fruit hats, or have them wear crowns of fake fruit. Or go with your own inspiration—there are so many possibilities! Cheese can wear a large sign-board of cheese or simply dress in bright yellow clothing.
Again, any investment you make as far as costumes will not be wasted if you plan on performing more than one Pie Palooza play. Any costumes you collect or create can be thrown in a plastic tub and pulled out the following year!
Definitely pie or something pie-inspired. The beauty of holding the pie contest (as suggested in my “Ingredients for Your Own Pie Palooza” section of the Fundraiser Play Ideas page) is that refreshments are taken care of. After the judging, the leftovers are served up to the crowd! But if you’ve decided to skip the pie contest, then maybe some cookies topped with pie filling, small hand pies, or mini-pies made in muffin tins would be ways to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth following the show.
This play is written in the spirit of an old-fashioned Western melodrama which calls for audience participation. If you’ve performed any of the other Pie Palooza plays in the trilogy and kept the signs, then you’re ready to roll. If you’re new to the Pie Palooza plays, then just know that the crowd is prompted to cheer, groan, sigh, etc., with the use of large signs held up at key moments throughout the play. The crowd loves it! Make the signs large enough to be read easily from the back row of the audience. The signs you need are as follows:
You have lots of options for sign holders. The Narrator can certainly do it—they just have to stay very focused the entire length of the play to know when to flash the right sign at the right time. You could also have the Pie Angel characters tackle the job, assigning a sign or two to each of them. If they’re onstage and it’s time for a sign prompt, one of them can simply hold up their sign from wherever they are positioned, wait for the audience to respond, and put it behind their back. If they’re not on stage at the time, they can enter into the scene for a moment, hold up their sign, wait for the audience to react, and then exit off. I would also suggest that you note on the Costumes and Props Grid that I’ve provided on the last page who is responsible for which sign. I spent too much time as a director asking, “Who’s got the ‘Groan’ sign?” before I just decided to keep track for myself. And if this seems too complicated or awkward for your Pie Angel characters, a final option is to ask someone who is not in the play to be the sign holder and relieve the characters within the play of the burden altogether.
Sign holders should practice entering and exiting the stage on cue, and if they’re having trouble, you could create a cheat sheet for them back stage as to what lines they should be listening for and what sign they need to be ready with. Also, the signs can be two-sided, if you like. APPLAUSE and LAUGH can be paired together, BOO and HISS can be on the flip side of one another, and so on.
Regardless of what option you choose, it’s always fun to have a practice session with the audience just before the Pie Palooza play begins. I promise you, the audience eats this up. Have your cast members hold up various signs and encourage a reaction from the audience—acting like it’s a large scale pop-quiz that they’re bound to ace.
This play, like all the other Pie Palooza scripts in the trilogy, is short and sweet. With just a few rehearsals, you’ll be ready. This play can definitely be performed on its own with no extra elements, but I strongly encourage you to check out my suggestions as to how to make it a fantastic fundraiser. See the “Ingredients for Your Own Pie Palooza” section on the Fundraiser Play Ideas page for more information.
Each playscript comes as a downloadable PDF document, and includes an extensive Production Notes section to help with all aspects of the production, as well as an invaluable Organizational Grid with each character’s costume suggestion and any props needed.
With purchase, you are granted the right to copy this script as needed for amateur performances for a period of one year from the date of purchase. More information on the Copyright page.