Good Life

10 questions with a 19th-century English pie seller

Ben Whitesell poses for a photo dressed as his character, the “Pie Maker,” from “Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol.” The State College Community Theatre will perform the show during the Bellefonte Victorian Christmas.
Ben Whitesell poses for a photo dressed as his character, the “Pie Maker,” from “Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol.” The State College Community Theatre will perform the show during the Bellefonte Victorian Christmas. adrey@centredaily.com

This is the pie seller. Or more accurately, this is Ben Whitesell, an academic adviser at Penn State. He doesn’t actually sell pies, but for the purposes of this conversation, he absolutely does.

Bottom line? Acting is hard.

Whitesell is on the board of directors of the State College Community Theatre and will appear in the company’s performance of “Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol,” during Bellefonte Victorian Christmas.

In anticipation of the show, the actor agreed to break the fourth wall and answer a few questions in character.

Q: What was your childhood ambition?

A: I always wanted to be a famous London cook, but me mother loved me pies so much and hated me dinners that she told me to stick with pies.

Q: What’s your biggest day-to-day challenge?

A: The hardest part of me day is selling me pies before I start to eat ’em. I get so hungry walkin’ the streets and me pies are very tasty.

Q: Do the pies practically sell themselves during this time of the year?

A: Oh, yes. Nothin’ goes better on a cold day than a hot pie, if I do say so myself.

Q: Do you have any plans for the holidays?

A: On Christmas day, the whole family will walk up and down the streets of our little neighborhood and sing carols with a few of the families that live nearby. It gives us a chance to visit our neighbors and bring a little extra cheer to their day.

Q: Where do you do the bulk of your Christmas shopping?

A: I usually take a stroll through Covent-garden Market ta’ see what catches me eye. The family is always grateful for whatever I find for ’em.

Q: Would you describe yourself as being difficult to shop for?

A: Not at all! I love the little things. A scarf for the chilly London streets, some fresh spices for me pies or even new strap for me pie basket. Oh, I hope me wife sees this and gets a few ideas!

Q: What was your last purchase?

A: Just the other mornin’ I purchased fresh blueberries for me pies. They were the largest and juiciest berries I’ve seen. They may be me best pies yet!

Q: What’s your biggest holiday indulgence?

A: Well, before headin’ home for the day on Christmas Eve I sometimes stop by the pub for a small beer. Oh, I hope me wife doesn’t see this!

Q: Is there anybody special you’re hoping to meet under the mistletoe?

A: Ma’ darlin wife always hangs the mistletoe just above me seat at the table. She is even sweeter than me pies.

Q: At the end of a long day, what do you do to unwind?

A: Most nights our children will gather ’round the fireplace with me and I will tell them stories of my travels through the city that day. Now, maybe not all of them stories are true but the children and I love spendin’ time together before blowin’ out the candle.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

IF YOU GO

What: “Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol”

Where: Bellefonte Area Middle School, 100 N. School St., Bellefonte

When: 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 12 and 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 13

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