Much loved around the world, popular cooking competition The Great British Bake Off has reinvigorated the nation’s love of baking, inspiring many to take up the hobby and crafts bakes thought unimaginable to make. Renowned for its impressive creations, the show has made stars out many amateur bakers, going on to show that you can achieve great things by pursuing your passions. Judged by national treasures Paul Hollywood and Pru Leith, and household names Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas, over a decade down, the reality show continues to inspire imaginations. Making its London premiere on the Noël Coward stage after a successful run at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham, The Great British Bake Off Musical is a playful take on a fictional season of the show, bringing with it a whole new host of characters.
From the Stone Ages, to the present day, we’re introduced to the iconic GBBO tent where the eveving’s drama takes place, Michael Cahill’s friendly Russell, Damian Humbley’s grounded Ben, Claire Moore’s forthright Babs, Grace Mouat’s tenacious Izzy, Aharon Rayner’s happy go lucky Hassan, Jay Saighal’s chilled Dezza, Cat Sandison’s measured Francesca and Charlotte Wakefield’s bubbly Gemma, fresh faced contestants ready to take on the challenge of hopefully being crowned the ultimate star baker! Judges Pam Lee (Haydn Gwynne) and Phil Hollinghurst (John Owen-Jones) grounded energies that punctuate the show with their undeniable presences whilst on the show, yet contradict this once the camera stop rolling which makes for a great contrast. Hosts Kim (Zoe Birkett) and Jim (Scott Paige) entertainingly piecing the whole competition together, anchors who are there to introduce the challenges, gauge what the celeb judges think of the contestant’s bakes, acts as support systems for the contestants and present to us what goes on. The evening serves more as a focus on the connections made behind the scenes than the competition itself which in theory makes for a gripping show, however these connections nor characters are fully realised.
Jake Brunger & Pippa Cleary craft a lighthearted, witty soundtrack. There’s a novelty to watching the cast break into song, particularly the judges which makes for an entertaining evening! Rachel Kavanaugh directs a steady, civil evening tapping into the competition’s politeness. The evening could tap more so into the underlying competitive nature of the contestants and show though, for example through sly backhanded digs, as this in itself could bring with it humour if done correctly. Alice Power’s quaint GBBO equipped set immediately takes us to the heart of the competition, each contestant with their own worktop/oven – with the communal fridge/freezer to boot! It makes perfect sense to make a musical out of a show that has with it its own universe and has become a British staple, the relevance there is clear – as stated before, the characterisations and behind-the-scenes angle needs to be stronger.
Written by Lucy Basaba.
The Great British Bake Off Musical is currently showing until Saturday 13th May at the Noël Coward Theatre. To find out more about the production, visit here…
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