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The Great Recipe Rip-Off

A fun melodrama. The villain wants to get his hand on a great recipe no matter how.

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The Great Recipe Rip-Off

A fun melodrama. The villain wants to get his hand on a great recipe no matter how.

Author:    Bill Gasper


     Nothing much changes at the Crockdip County Fair. Every year, Ima Baker wins the pie baking contest, which has resulted in national attention and offers of big money for the secret family recipe. The secret recipe catches the attention of slippery villain Rip Tile and his not-too-bright associate Lilac A. Rugg.
     Together, the duo travel the fair circuit in search of prize-winning recipes that they can sell to a frozen food conglomerate. Rip first tries to buy Ima’s recipe and then tries to dazzle her with his charm, but after being rejected both times, he comes up with a plan to pignap a hog belonging to Ima’s boyfriend, Hugh DeMann, and hold it for ransom.
     The pig for the pie…or else. Ima decides to give up her recipe, but Hugh discovers the truth with his keen sense of smell as his nose leads him directly to Lilac, who has neglected to watch her step while tending the hog. Rip decides to make a quick exit with Hugh in hot pursuit. Ima and her friends, Ivana Mann, Rich ‘Bubba’ Farmer, and newspaper reporter Wanda Bea Ryder, watch and describe the chase across the fairgrounds and into the bull arena.
     There, Rip’s life of crime is brought to an abrupt halt. Rip is taken off to jail, and Hugh’s prize hog is returned. Wanda is given the scoop of a lifetime when Ima asks her to publish the recipe. Hugh and Ima then agree to get married at the conclusion of this 30-minute one-act that illustrates the importance of small-town values and good friends.

The Great Recipe Rip-Off


or…Watch Your Feet When You’re Being A Sneak

A melodrama in one act


Bill Gasper

The Great Recipe Rip-Off

 Copyright 2003  


Bill Gasper

All Rights Reserved

CAUTION: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that THE GREAT RECIPE RIP-OFF is subject to a royalty.  It is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, the British Commonwealth, including Canada, and all other countries of the Copyright Union.  All rights, including professional, amateur, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, and the rights of translation into foreign language are strictly reserved. 

The amateur live stage performance rights to THE GREAT RECIPE RIP-OFF are controlled exclusively by Drama Source and royalty arrangements and licenses must be secured well in advance of presentation.  PLEASE NOTE that amateur royalty fees are set upon application in accordance with your producing circumstances.  When applying for a royalty quotation and license please give us the number of performances intended and dates of production.  Royalties are payable one week before the opening performance of the play to Drama Source Co., 1588 E. 361 N., St. Anthony, Idaho 83445, unless other arrangements are made. 

Royalty of the required amount must be paid whether the play is presented for charity or gain, and whether or not admission is charged.  For all other rights than those stipulated above, apply to Drama Source Company, 1588 E. 361 N. St. Anthony, Idaho 83445.

Copying from this book in whole or in part is strictly forbidden by law, and the right of performance is not transferable.

Whenever the play is produced, the following notice must appear on all programs, printing and advertising for the play, “Produced by special arrangement with Drama Source Co.”

Due authorship credit must be given on all programs, printing and advertising for the play.

No one shall commit or authorize any act or omission by which the copyright or the rights to copyright of this play may be impaired.

No one shall make changes in this play for the purpose of production without written permission.

Publication of this play does not imply availability for performance.    Both amateurs and professionals considering a production are strongly advised in their own interests to apply to Drama Source Company for written permission before starting rehearsals, advertising, or booking a theatre.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, by any means, now known or yet to be invented, including mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording, videotaping or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Cast:  3M/4W

Set/Time:  Very Simple Set/About 30 minutes

Cast of Characters

Ima Baker Blue ribbon pie maker.

Ivana Mann Her unmarried friend.

Wanda Bea Ryder Newspaper reporter.

Hugh DeMann Local farmer.

Rip Tile Slippery villain.

Lilac A. Rugg His not too bright accomplice.

Rich Farmer Local farmer. Not too bright.


TIME:  The present.

PLACE:  The Crockdip County Fair.

SCENE ONE: The pie booth one summer morning.

SCENE TWO:  The same later that afternoon.


The setting for this tale is the pie booth at the Crockdip County Fair. It can be easily played on a bare stage with a curtain for a backdrop, or a more elaborate backdrop can be painted with scenes depicting a small-town fair. Centered on stage is a long table covered with a nice tablecloth. On top of the table are a number of pies. A banner is hung on front of the table that simply says “Crockdip County Pie Baking Contest.” Actors enter from either STAGE RIGHT or STAGE LEFT.

The Great Recipe Rip-Off was first performed by the Neighborhood Entertainment Company of Hoxie, Kansas at the Sheridan County Fair on July 24-26, 200 and featured the following cast:

Ima Baker Jessica Spresser

Ivana Mann Shirley Slover

Wanda Bea Ryder Emily Heim

Hugh DeMann Karl Pratt

Rip Tile Jeremy Kruse

Lilac A. Rugg Adriane Moss

Rich Farmer Dan Sewell





Scene One


A banquet style folding table, a sign that reads “Crockdip County Pie Baking Contest,” several pies in pie dishes.


Flyswatter, apron (IVANA), a pie dish (IMA), a camera, reporter’s notebook, pencil (WANDA).

Scene Two


Assorted ribbons for the pies. A blue ribbon for Ima’s pie.


Fake recipe card (IMA), the real recipe card (IMA), tattered jacket and pants (RIP).


The play takes place in the present-day, so dress the characters as you deem  appropriate for your locale. Listed below are suggestions for your consideration.

Ivana and Ima: Simple dresses or casual outfits. Ivana is a bit more “dressy” as she has already dressed for the fair. Ima, meanwhile, should appear more casual as she has hurriedly rushed from her kitchen to the fairgrounds with her apple pie entry. She should still be wearing an apron.

Wanda:  Casual slacks and a blouse or however your local newspaper people dress.

Hugh:  New coveralls with collared shirt, complete with bowtie, boots and a relatively new baseball-style hat from a local feed dealer or implement dealer.

Rip and Lilac:  They should definitely stand out amongst the locals. Rip is wearing a dark suit with white shirt and tie. He should be wearing a hat. After the chase, he will need matching clothing that has been ripped up as a result of his untimely meeting with one of the rodeo bulls. Lilac is dressed rather provocatively in a skirt and top or dress. She is wearing open-toed heels.

Rich:  Old coveralls, t-shirt, dirty boots and a well-worned baseball cap from a local seed dealer or implement dealer.



Scene One

LIGHTS UP:  IVANA MANN, the Crockdip County fair chairperson, is busily preparing a table for the pie entries. She has a flyswatter in one hand, waving it back and forth to keep the flies away. A number of entries are already present. IMA BAKER ENTERS LEFT carrying a pie. She is still wearing an apron and her hair is a bit messy as she has just rushed from her kitchen to the fairgrounds with her entry.

IMA:  Hi Ivana. Do you have room for one more?

IVANA:  Ima, there you are. I was worried you wouldn’t make the deadline.

IMA:  I was little concerned myself. I just couldn’t get the crust to come out the way I wanted it.

IVANA:  As if you have anything to worry about. As far as I’m concerned, we might as well put the blue ribbon on that pie right now.

IMA: Ivana, please. The contest isn’t until this afternoon.

IVANA:  I know that. But the outcome’s all but decided. For heaven’s sake Ima, you’ve won the pie baking contest for the past 10 years.

IMA:  Well, that may be so, but I heard that Neda Wynn has been working day and night on a new recipe. She wants that blue ribbon pretty badly.

IVANA:  I wouldn’t worry about it. She’s been trying her darndest the last five years, and every year, we have to feed her leftover pie to the hogs.

WANDA: (ENTERS LEFT. She’s wearing a camera around her neck.) Hello ladies. What’d ya got there, Ima, another prize winning pie? How about I take your picture now so I don’t have to come back later?

IMA:  Oh Wanda, you’re just as bad as Ivana.

WANDA:  Why don’t you do us all a favor and just give us that recipe? That’d be the biggest news we’ve had in the Crockdip Courier since that skunk wandered into the city council meeting.

IMA:  Sorry Wanda. Can’t do it. My mom made me promise that I wouldn’t divulge that recipe to anyone…unless it’s my own family. And since I’m not married yet, I’ll probably take it to my grave.

WANDA:  I heard you’ve been offered a lot of money for that recipe ever since Better Cooks magazine wrote that article on you.

IMA:  Well, there’s more important things than money.

IVANA:  I can’t think of any…unless it’s a man who has lots of money.

IMA:  There you go again Ivana…thinking about men.

IVANA:  Well, I’m dang near thirty-one years old and…

WANDA:  Thirty-one? You graduated from high school before I did and I’m…

IVANA:  Did I say thirty-one? I meant to say to thirty-four. I never was too good at arithmetic. But as I was saying, I’m not getting any younger. My motor’s running and I need someone to rev it up before I run out of gas.

IMA:  Ivana, Ivana, Ivana.

IVANA:  You can pooh pooh me all you want Ima Baker, but I know you don’t want to grow old by yourself anymore than I do. But you don’t have much to worry about. I heard that Hugh DeMann has the hots for you.

WANDA  Hugh DeMann? Really!?

IMA:  See what you got started, Ivana? Now, it’ll probably be printed on the front page of the Courier.

WANDA:  I wouldn’t worry about that Ima. I deal in facts, not gossip.

IVANA:  Since when? I see you over at the donut shop every morning.

WANDA:  I didn’t say I didn’t gossip. I just don’t print it.

IVANA:  Well, well…looky there. You want facts Wanda? Here comes one big handsome fact in the name of Hugh DeMann.

IMA:  (Flustered.) Oh my word. He’s coming over here…and my hair…it must be a mess.

IVANA:  You look just fine, Ima.

HUGH:  (ENTERS LEFT.) Howdy ladies. (WANDA and IVANA say hello. IMA stays quiet.) Nice day, isn’t it?

IVANA:  It sure is.

HUGH:  You’re looking very nice today, Ima.

IVANA:  See? What’d I tell ya?

HUGH:  Pardon me?

IMA:  Don’t pay her no mind Hugh. She’s just blabbing.

HUGH:  Nice day for a walk, wouldn’t you agree, Ima? Would you care to accompany me to the hog barn to view my prize hog?

IVANA:  (Sarcastic.) How romantic.

IMA:  Oh hush Ivana. I’d love to look, Hugh. Keep an eye on my pie for me, would you Ivana? (Removes her apron and hands it to Ivana.)

IVANA:  Sure thing Ima. You two just go and have a nice time. (IMA and HUGH EXIT LEFT.) Lucky woman.

WANDA:  Sure is. Not many good men like Hugh out there.

IVANA:  Well…maybe not Wanda, but I happen see one walking across the fairgrounds right now.

WANDA:  Where?

IVANA:  Right over there. (Points offstage LEFT.)

WANDA:  Is that Bubba Farmer?

IVANA:  If you mean Rich Farmer, it most certainly is.

WANDA:  I heard he moved back after his daddy died, but I haven’t seen him around much.

IVANA:  Well then, I’m just going to have to find out what he’s been up to. Mind the stand for me will you Wanda? (Hands the flyswatter and apron to Wanda.)

WANDA:  But I need to talk to you about all the fair activities for the newspaper.

IVANA:  Don’t worry. I won’t be long. (EXITS LEFT.)

WANDA:  Great. Just great. Those two are off chasing men while I’m here watching a bunch of pies. (WANDA begins to look at the entries as RIP TILE and LILAC A. RUGG ENTER RIGHT and move DOWNSTAGE RIGHT. RIP is a smooth talking con man, while LILAC is a gum chewing ditz.)

LILAC: (Wiping her feet.) Did we have to take the scenic tour, Rip?

RIP:  I told you to watch your step. Things get kind of messy around the animal barns.

LILAC:  You sound like you have experience in these matters.

RIP:  I grew up in a small town. I don’t have too many fond memories of it except for the county fair. There’s nothing like it…the sights, the sounds…

LILAC:  The smells. (Sniffs.)

RIP: Don’t fret Lilac my dear…you’ll get used to it.

LILAC:  (Sniffs again.) I don’t see how.

RIP:  Perhaps you should hold your breath. (LILAC takes a deep breath and holds it as RIP delivers an ASIDE to audience. During the aside, LILAC can make a series of gestures and facial expressions as she begins to feel the need for air.) Don’t pay no mind to Lilac folks. She’s a city slicker through and through. I, on the other hand, was raised on a farm. Rip Tile is my name. Conning people is my game. Hard to believe from an old farm boy right? Sorry about that, but not all of us can grow up to be wholesome All American boys. Lilac and I have been traveling the fair circuit for the past couple of years looking for prize winning recipes. You see…people don’t want to cook anymore…they want convenience. They want to take it out of the freezer and pop it in the microwave. And I can tell you that frozen food companies are willing to pay big bucks for a good recipe. In fact, just last year I inherited an exquisite brownie recipe from my wife of two months. She unfortunately met her untimely end in a kitchen accident. Not that I had anything to do with that of course. (Laughs evily. Sees LILAC still holding her breath.) Lilac my dear. I was only kidding about holding your breath. (LILAC takes big gasp of air. RIP continues his ASIDE.) Actually, I was only partially kidding. Anyway, where was I? Ah yes…that brownie recipe. I sold that recipe for one hundred thousand big ones. Not bad huh? So….that’s why I’m here…at the Crockdip County Fair…looking for that next prize winning recipe.

LILAC: (Points offstage RIGHT.) Rip…what are those things in those jars over there?

RIP:  Those are pickles, my little gherkin.

LILAC:  Pickles!? The pickles I buy at the store don’t look anything like that.

RIP:  Well my dear, these have been home grown and canned by people who live hereabouts.

LILAC:  I don’t understand. Why don’t they just go the store and buy them?

RIP:  Because….oh never mind. I didn’t come here to discuss pickles. It’s the baked goods I’m after, and I see a table full of delicious looking pies right over there. Let’s inquire to see if any of the pies have potential resale value. (Moves to table where WANDA is inspecting the pies.) Good morning ma’am. My name is Rip Tile and this is my associate Lilac A. Rugg. I see you have quite a number of entries in your pie contest.

WANDA:  That we do. Crockdip County is known for its delicious pies.

LILAC:  This one looks really good. (Points at a pie.)

RIP:  (Condescending.) What would you know? The last time you baked anything it came out of an Easy Bake oven.

WANDA:  Actually, she has a pretty good eye. That pie belongs to Ima Baker. She’s won the pie baking contest for 10 years straight, and I can guarantee you she’ll win it again this year. Nobody makes an apple pie like Ima. In fact, she’s been written up in Better Cooks magazine.

RIP:  (Aside.) Bingo! Just what I’ve been looking for. (To Wanda.) Her pies are that good huh?

WANDA:  You bet. But she won’t tell anybody her recipe…says it’s an old family secret. Here she comes now if you want to talk to her about it. (IMA ENTERS LEFT.) Hey Ima. This man and his wife…

RIP:  (Interrupting.) I can assure you that Miss Rugg is not my wife. (To Ima.) How do you do ma’am. The name is Rip Tile. And this is my associate Lilac A. Rugg.

IMA:  Nice to meet you, Mr. Reptile.

RIP:  (A bit annoyed.) That’s Rip Tile. Rip is my first name. Tile is my second.

IMA:  Oh, I’m sorry.

RIP:  (Pleasant again.) Perfectly understandable mistake, ma’am.

LILAC:  (Aside) Yeah…perfectly understandable. He may look like a prince but he kisses like a toad.

RIP:  Well, Miss Baker. It is Miss, isn’t it? 

IMA:  I’m afraid so. But call me Ima.

RIP:  Certainly, Ima. As I was saying, I represent a giant food conglomerate who’d be willing to pay you five thousand dollars for your pie recipe.

WANDA:  Wow! Five thousand dollars!

IMA:  That is a lot of money, but I’m afraid it’s not for sale.

RIP:  You drive a hard bargain, Ima. How about ten thousand? But that’s my final offer.

IMA:  It’s not for sale at any price. I promised my mother I’d never divulge that recipe.

RIP:  (Pleasantly.) I see. (Aside.) What’s wrong with this person ? Ten thousand clams is a lot of money. I hate people who refuse to be corrupted. (To IMA. Pleasantly again.) Okay then. I certainly understand your reluctance and I won’t press you any further. I will, however, be in town for a couple of days and would love the pleasure of your company. Perhaps, you would take a stroll with me on the fairgrounds or join me for dinner later this evening.

IMA:  That is kind of you to ask, sir, but I have promised dinner with another gentleman.

RIP:  (Aside.) Curses! Incorruptible AND faithful. I hate small town values. (To IMA.) I’m sorry to hear that. Who’s the lucky man, and why would he leave you all alone on such a beautiful day?

IMA:  That would be Hugh DeMann and he’s busy right now getting his hog ready for the swine show.

WANDA:  Hugh and Ima make a great pair. Ima wins the blue ribbon every year for her pies, and Hugh wins it every year for his hog. I guess you could say they’re a blue ribbon couple.

LILAC:  (Rolls her eyes. Sarcastic.) Well, la tee da.

RIP:  Well then, I’ll bid you two lovely ladies a good day. Come Lilac. (He leads her away from the two women. WANDA, meanwhile, puts flyswatter down, pulls out a reporter’s notebook and pretends to be interviewing IMA as the following conversation takes place.)

LILAC:  Looks like you struck out Rip. Should we move on to the next town?

RIP:  Are you kidding? That pie recipe is worth a lot of money. I’m not about to give up yet.

LILAC:  What’re you going to do?

RIP:  Be quiet. I want to collect my thoughts.

LILAC:  (ASIDE) Collect his thoughts? That won’t take long.

RIP:  Let’s see…she’s not interested in money…she’s not interested in good looking men…

LILAC:  How do you know that?

RIP:  Know what?

LILAC: That’s she not interested in good looking men.

RIP:  You heard her. She turned me down flat.

LILAC:  Ohhhh…you were talking about you. You kind of threw me off when you said good looking.

RIP:  (To the audience.) You thought that was funny huh? Well, I hope you all checked your seats before you sat down. I deposited a wad of gum on one of them before the show. Now who’s laughing?  (Laughs evily. To Lilac.) You’re just a barrel of laughs today, aren’t you Lilac? (Thinking aloud.) Let’s see…there must be something we can do. This Ima seemed very interested in some guy…uh…his name was…uh…

LILAC: Hugh DeMann.

RIP:  Thanks for noticing Lilac, but right now, I’m trying to think of Ima’s boyfriend’s name.

LILAC:  No Einstein…his name is Hugh.

RIP:  Hugh. Yeah…that’s it. And if I recall, he’s very fond of his prize porker. (Pause a beat.) Of course! Why didn’t I think of that sooner? Come with me Lilac. We have work to do. (THEY EXIT RIGHT.)

WANDA:  I think that’ll do it, Ima. You have anything to add?

IMA:  Nothing I can think of.

WANDA:  Thanks for visiting with me. Now, I just have to find Ivana and interview her. (Looks offstage LEFT.) Speaking of the devil, here she comes.

IMA:  While you’re talking with her, I going to go see how Hugh is doing. (SHE EXITS LEFT. A beat later IVANA ENTERS LEFT with RICH FARMER.)

IVANA:  Thanks for watching things for me, Wanda. You remember, Rich, don’t you?

WANDA:  Yeah. How ya doing Bubba? Long time no see.

IVANA:  Uh…Rich doesn’t like being called Bubba anymore, do you Rich?

RICH:  Nope.

WANDA:  Sorry about that. I’ve known you so long by that name, it’ll be kind of hard to get used to calling you by you’re real name.

RICH:  Don’t worry ‘bout it none.

WANDA:  So what’ve you been up to the last five years?

RICH:  Not much.

WANDA:  Sorry to hear about your dad.

RICH:  Uh huh.

WANDA:  So…you plan on running the family farm.

RICH:  Yup.

WANDA:  Still as talkative as ever, huh Rich?

RICH:  Yup.

IVANA:  Rich and I were just catching up on the old days. You know, it’s funny, but I don’t remember seeing him around much when we were in high school.

RICH:  That’s because you ignored me.

IVANA:  (Laughs nervously.) Well, things have changed a lot around here since then. And you certainly have changed, Rich. Don’t you think he’s changed a lot, Wanda?

WANDA:  Whatever you say Ivana. (ASIDE.) The only thing that’s changed is that Bubba just inherited a pile of money and five thousand acres of the richest cropland this side of the Mississipi.

IVANA:  Yes siree bob. You certainly have turned into a handsome man.

RICH:  (Confused.) My name’s Rich. Bob’s my brother.

IVANA:  I know that. It’s just an expression.

RICH:  (Still confused.) Huh?

IVANA:  Never mind.

RICH:  I gotta be goin’.

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The Great Recipe Rip-Off

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