The Great British Bake Off Musical: Noel Coward Theatre, London
19th March 2023
Following a successful summer run in Cheltenham The Great British Bake Off Musical is now running for a short stint in London’s West End. With the recent rise in jukebox musicals and revivals this brand new British Musical is a welcome addition. The Great British Bake Off has almost become a British treasure of itself and with so many fans this new production is bound to delight audience members.
If you are a fan of the TV series you’ll soon spot some of the iconic Bake Off moments such as the infamous handshake, unheated ovens and of course ice-cream week during the hottest weekend of the year. The musical does well to integrate all of the much-loved elements of Bake Off from the 13 series into this brand new show. Of course, the show would not be complete without the judges and John Owen-Jones is hilarious as Phil Hollinghurst, although he is not named as Paul Hollywood we all know who he is trying to imitate and he does so excellently. Haydn Gwynne is also very good as Pam Lee, the female judge. They have a lot of stage time and both have some large musical numbers. In fact, most of the cast have solo numbers some of which do feel a little unnecessary or overly long.
The main plot follows eight bakers compete in the TV show, complete with judges and presenters. We also see some backstage items and find out some behind the scenes gossip. As with the TV show, there is a range of characters from the friendly home taught cook, to the rich pastry connoisseur who is determined to win. There is a quite stereotypical range of characters in the show which could feel a bit obvious but it does work well. In addition to the competition there is a love interest between widowed Ben and Gemma, who has recently lost her mum. The romantic storyline is very predictable, along with other aspects of the show, but is a nice little aside to the show. The show could do with being cut slightly shorter as the second act does seem to drag on a little but the script is very good, full of witty innuendoes as you’d expect and despite some questionable lines/lyrics the comedy shines through.
The cast are very talented with Charlotte Wakefield particularly standing out as quiet, nervous Gemma. Her songs ‘Somewhere in the Dough‘ and ‘Rise‘ are extremely well performed, showing off her vocal range with flourish. Scott Paige’s one liners are delivered with perfect timing, Grace Mouat is hilarious as Izzy, the over competitive baker and Cat Sandison handles her delicate storyline as Francesca excellently.
The audience are transported to the Bake Off tent with a lovely set by Alice Power, full with the iconic counters, electric appliances and of course many baking paraphernalia. The lighting, by Ben Cracknell, also works well although it could use a few less follow spot lights as at times it detracted from the action on stage. Movement onstage is organised well with the transitions being smooth and well integrated into the performance. This is especially evident in the song ‘Don’t Send Me Home‘. Whilst the original songs by Jake Brunger and Pippa Clearly are not particularly memorable they fit the show well and are performed brilliantly. The clever lyrics adding further humour to the show.
The Great British Bake Off Musical is definitely a funny new musical and, whilst fans of the TV series will undoubtedly get more from it than newbies, there is something for everyone. As well as the comedy there are some touching moments such as during Francesca’s song ‘Grow‘ which is about her love of baking coming from her struggles with her fertility. The production tries to add heart with subtle aspects such as Gemma’s lack of self belief and Hassan’s baking skills finally making him feel at home in Britain. In the end, this production is about escapism; sitting back and enjoying theatre. It does not make you think too much, there are no great messages or thought provoking lines but it is a perfect treat. Just don’t blame us if you fancy indulging in some cake (and tea) after the show.
The Great British Bake Off Musical is playing at the Noel Coward Theatre in London until the 13th May. For information and tickets click here.
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan
I love musicals (as a musical theatre trained musician) but this one just doesn’t appeal. Xx