The Great British Bake Off Musical ★★★★ Noël Coward Theatre | Until May 13, 2023

The television show that became an international phenomenon has now come to the stage. When The Great British Bake Off first aired in 2010 it received mixed reviews. However, it has proven to have a winning recipe and now boasts imitators from Argentina to Romania. The Bake Off tent offers a delightful refuge from the stresses of the real world, inviting one into a place where crisis is defined as a pastry with a soggy bottom. Here the contestants are generally positive and supportive in the putative competition and the spirit of good fellowship and bonhomie abounds. This current musical descendant of the television series seeks to emulate the original's gentle good humour, sly innuendo and sunny spirit and it does quite a good job. There is a love story, a redemption narrative and affirmation of the human spirit as people find confidence and acceptance through baking. Charlotte Wakefield brings a powerful voice to her role as the unconfident Gemma who is brought out of her shell, and Damian Humbley is delightful as her widowed love-interest. As the baker who is a feisty fan of John Owen-Jones, the show's Paul Hollywood lookalike, Claire Moore brings down the house with her number, "Babs' Lament." For us, her heartthrob's duet with Haydn Gwynne, who plays fellow judge, Pam, is also another highlight of the show. As the 'villain' of the piece, Grace Mouat does a nice turn, and Zoe Birkett and Scott Paige are suitably silly hosts. Like the Bake Off itself, the music and plot are genial and generally unremarkable while the humour is topical and mildly suggestive. It helps if you know your reality TV and have some acquaintance with the original show, its 'crises' and its characters, but it is far from necessary. In a world beset with discord and strife, The Great British Bake Off Musical offers the kind of enjoyable, unchallenging, feel-good evening we all need now and then. Take time for a little well-deserved treat!

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Manuel Harlan.

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When, Where, Getting there:
Until May 13, 2023
Mon, Wed - Sat: 7:30 pm, Thu & Sat: 2:30 pm, Sun: 3 pm
Noël Coward Theatre
Nearest tube: Leicester Square

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