'2 Sugars, Room for Cream' back for more coffee-related hijinks

Carolyn Pool and Shanan Custer.
Carolyn Pool and Shanan Custer.
Photo courtesy Hennepin Theatre Trust
The story of 2 Sugars, Room for Cream is one of perseverance. After successful runs at the 2009 Minnesota Fringe Festival and a year later at Illusion Theatre's Fresh Ink series, creators Carolyn Pool and Shanan Custer knew they wanted to continue. 

"We worked very hard. We knocked on a lot of doors and had a lot of meetings and sent out a lot of DVDs. It was done by our own sheer will," Custer says. "Fringe and Fresh Ink were exciting, but what would it be like if we could really breathe, to be comfortable and explore the show?"

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That opportunity comes this week, when the latest version of the show opens at the New Century Theatre in Minneapolis for a five-week run.

"It's been interesting to go back. Some of these scenes were written three or four years ago. We've come really far. Shanan has always been a good writer. That's something I've had to learn. From the stuff we wrote first to the stuff we are writing now, things have changed," Pool says.

In the collection of sketches and scenes, Custer and Pool play a variety of characters who meet over coffee or wine or drinks. In the restructured, expanded version "we revisit scenes. Some of them are a trilogy of scenes that come back," Custer says. "We trimmed some of the fat; other scenes we have been completely reworked."

The whole show is "built around the premise of what happens when two people get together over a cup of coffee. They can be strangers, friends, people who are related to each other, or ones who don't like each other much. We're exploring what happens in the course of the day when you meet up with someone. It's not built on any sort of theme or message. The common thread is just daily interaction," Pool says.

"The idea of coffee, we were just struck with that. We love coffee," Custer adds.

The show has always been a workout for the pair, who remain onstage throughout the whole piece. That started as a necessity in the space they had at the Fringe, but has become an important part of the show's energy.

All of the characters are women. "That really wasn't even conscious, but when we realized it we got very excited," Pool says. "There are conversations that women actually have that are rarely seen on stage or film or television."

With the characters, situations, songs, and jokes all in place, it's now a matter of performing in front of the audiences over the next month or so.

"The nights with the super quiet audience? This show allows for that. It fits with a lot of different energies. We feel really close to the audience by the end of the show," Custer says.

2 Sugars, Room for Cream
Hennepin Theatre Trust's New Century Theatre
615 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
Thursday through November 11
For information and tickets, call 1.800.982.2787 or visit online
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