Courtesy Autumn Keith.

Pop-Up Shop

A Play About Pastry. But First, Cannoli Pop-Ups.

This Elevator Project play starts with a sweet Italian treat.

You could say Scott Zenreich, whose play Pastry King will open at the Wyly Theatre as part of the Elevator Project series on April 23 and run through May 5, respected the adage “Write what you know.” The actor, who grew up in New York City and studied musical theater in Boston, has always worked restaurant jobs. Most recently, he helped open Sachet and worked at David and Jennifer Uygur’s Bishop Arts restaurant Lucia and now at Macellaio—perpetuating in his adult life, as he knowingly put it, the “waiter-actor stereotype.”

“I always wanted to connect the two,” Zenreich says. Pastry King represents his first attempt to do so, while avoiding the stigma of dinner theater—“bad food and bad theater in one place”—and offering one delicious bite of a cannoli and a play about the imagined back scenes of the pastry business.

“Working at Lucia and Macellaio had a lot to do with it,” Zenreich says. “Seeing David [Uygur] making pasta, bread, and salumi. There’s so much back there; theater is the same way.” There will be dough work on stage. “We make ricotta in real time,” Zenreich says, and he and pastry chef Nina Angelilli, whom he met at Sachet and is now cannoli maven, had to determine how to make a pastry shop out of the Wyly’s black-box 6th Floor Theater, he says. Angelilli will be there. “Maybe she’ll be rolling out dough or maybe she’ll be piping filling” and handing guests a cannolo at the door. The details have yet to be decided. But one thing is clear: guests will be seated a bistro tables in a pastry shop, the epitome of immersive theater.

The play, aside its script, is also about “things that would be really hard to do in a theater, impossible things to show on stage,” Zenreich says.

Not least of which was getting the five-person cast’s lead actor to convincingly handle confections. Angellini has been giving tutorials; Uygur jumped in with pointers.

Meanwhile, fundraising has involved cannoli pop-ups. Just over a dozen remain, mostly at breweries, wine bars, and coffee shops, where Zenreich turns itinerant cannolo merchant, handing out the crunchy, cream-filled shells for $3. Zenreich gave himself “the impossible task” of contacting and arranging with 30 business owners in order to organize the pop-ups running February to April 15. “I love the idea of people that make things,” Zenreich says. “So, my initial instinct was to contact breweries and coffee roasters and people who make things.” Overwhelmingly, he says, the response to the idea of a cannoli pop-up was enthusiastic. Meanwhile, Angelilli has made a study of deep-frying outdoors in frigid temperatures. She says she’s had fun experimenting with flavors that correspond to the locations. Already, there is wine in the cannolo shell. They’ve done coffee cannoli at Full City Rooster, using Michael Wyatt’s Costa Rican and Guatemalan roasts. For the pop-up at Las Almas Rotas, they’ll make a Mexican spiced chocolate filling, which the mescaleria will pair with Campari Negronis in a wild Italian cameo. The final pop-up, at The Wild Detectives, will include a panel discussion on food and art, which will feature a restaurant architect and a chef.

“Sometimes we have a line out the door; sometimes not.” They’ve sold 1,200 cannoli and counting.

Head to the pop-ups at Opening Bell and Veritas Wine Room this weekend. See the full schedule below. Tickets to Pastry King are available here at the AT&T Performing Arts Center website. The curtain rises on April 23.

 

  • Saturday, March 9
    Opening Bell Coffee
  • Sunday, March 10
    Veritas Wine Room
  • Friday, March 15
    Noble Rey Brewing Company
  • Saturday, March 16
    Neighborhood Cellar
  • Friday, March 22
    Las Almas Rotas
  • Saturday, March 23
    Peticolas Brewing Company
  • Monday, March 25
    The Tipsy Alchemist
  • Saturday, March 30
    Four Corners Brewing Company
  • Sunday, March 31
    AJ Vagabonds
  • Saturday, April 6
    Pegasus City Brewery
  • Sunday, April 7
    AJ Vagabonds
  • Friday, April 12
    Davis Street Espresso
  • Saturday, April 13
    Noble Coyote Coffee Roasters
  • Monday, April 15
    The Wild Detectives

 

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