The Proof of the Pudding is in the Eating!
“Imagine we are in Paree
The home of fine patisserie
Sipping our Sancerre beside the Seine
Our bellies full of cheese and wine!”
At first thought you might think it difficult to make a two and a half hour, including interval, musical about baking cakes, but then if you watch and like The Great British Bake Off you could be in for a treat.
For the extremely few people who do not know the basis of the TV show, there are eight contestants working from their own work benches tasked with making ever more difficult bakes with limited time. They are judged by two “professional” judges and each week the worst is sent home with much drama and tensions. All the time there are interviews and discussions between the presenters and bakers as to how they are doing.
In an amusing start to the play two cave people, the ultimate presenters, Kim (Zoe Burkett) and Jim (the superbly comic Scott Paige) are standing around a wood fire declaring “in the beginning there was flour” followed by other ingredients which become a soft sponge cake but they don’t know what to do with it.
The set is much as you would see on the television work benches with food mixers and ovens, these can be moved around for any musical dance numbers as needed.
The bakers are the predictable bunch of clichés, the vegan hipster Dezza (Jay Saighal), the posh Oxbridge girl Izzy (Grace Mouat), the geek Russell (Michael Cahill), and the Syrian immigrant, Hassan (Aharon Rayner).
They are joined by the mum Francesca (Cat Sandison) trying to win the prize to pay for more IVF treatments, Cockney granny Babs (Claire Moore) divorced three times with a constant supply of double entendre jokes, the lone woman Gemma (Charlotte Wakefield) who has never travelled but wants to go to Paris and widowed policeman Ben (Damian Humbley) who has a nine year old daughter Lily played by Maisy Mein/Amelie Rouse/Aanya Shah. All have their own backstory which evolves during the show.
There is much humour between the bakers and the presenters the judges stay aloof with their own relationship. A fair part of the humour are the “in jokes” . John Owen-Jones, who plays Judge Phill Hollinghurst, is about 6 ft. Could he be Paul Hollywood? No he is much shorter! I should mention that Haydn Gwynne as Judge Pam Lee looks close to Prue Leith and obtains the greatest cheer from the audience, when in a dance number, she turned cartwheels.
Is truth stranger than fiction? In the show there are a number of events that I first dismissed as fiction: ice cream stolen from a rival competitor, the baked Alaska scandal dubbed Bingate by the viewers where a rival competitor removed a contestant’s baked Alaska from the fridge and let it melt in the Showstopper challenge, all, and more, happened. If you are a long-term fan of the tv show then you should enjoy seeing these again worked into the musical.
All of the cast can sing and dance well and the audience enjoyed being part of the show. With an estimated TV audience of 5.2M in 2022, down from 7.2M in 2021 it can be seen why this musical has significant potential.
“The Bake Off Tent”
“Somewhere In The Dough”
“Slap It Like That”
“Bring on the Scone”
“Grow” – Francesca
“The Handshake Song”
“All the Way”
“Keep On Keeping On”
“The Perfect Petit Fours”
“Don’t Send Me Home”
“I’d Never Be Me Without You”
The Great British Bake Off Musical
Music Book and Lyrics by Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary
Directed by Rachel Kavanaugh
Director: Rachel Kavanaugh
Choreographer: Georgina Lamb
Set, Costume and Cake Designer: Alice Power
Musical Supervisor /Director: Mark Collins
Musical Director: Stephen Ridley
Lighting Designer: Ben Cracknell
Sound Designer: Ben Harrison
Projection Designer: George Reeve
Musical Director: Dan Glover
Orchestrator: Tom Curran
Running Time: Two hours 30 minutes with an interval
Booking until 13th May 2023
The Noël Coward Theatre
85-88 St Martin’s Lane
London WC2N 4AP
Telephone: 0844 482 5151
Tube: Leicester Square
Reviewed by Malcolm Beckett at the
Noël Coward Theatre on 6th March 2023