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Review of The Great British Bakeoff Musical at Noël Coward Theatre - A half-baked hotchpotch

Updated: Jan 29

Rated 🍯🍯

AI-generated image of a colourful cake tower with multiple layers of cake, frosting, sprinkles, cream and macaroons

It is ironic that a musical tribute to a TV series about decadent desserts and sweet treats should turn out to be so tasteless and bland.

Your faithful bee left The Great British Bakeoff Musical at the Noël Coward Theatre in disbelief. After all, who doesn't love the charming and wholesome TV show that celebrates the art of baking? Surely, a musical theatre version of such a show could only be twice as nice? Unfortunately, the musical felt like a lazy, underdeveloped attempt to cash in on the popularity of the show, neither fully capturing the essence of the show it is based on, nor delivering anything novel of its own.

The characters on The Great British Bakeoff Musical were stereotypes and clichés

There is an arrogant, overconfident one who thinks they are the best thing since sliced bread, and who usually ends up getting eliminated in a humiliating way. There is the contestant who has a heart of gold and a tragic backstory, meant to bring the audience to tears over how they survive their sadness and are still so kind to other contestants. There is the contestant with low self-esteem, often apologising for their dishes and displaying a mix of astonishment and imposter syndrome when they are successful at pleasing the judges.

If this melange of characters is supposed to parody the stereotypical characters that seem to repeat themselves every year in reality TV shows, it fails. If the characters were supposed to exhibit the raw emotion and visceral feel of a high-pressure competition, interspersed with highly relatable personal struggle, the show again fails. No, it is something in between — neither exploring the characters fully as real people with original, novel stories, nor delivering a humorous pastiche of the kind of people you normally encounter in the show. Half-baked — that is the word for the way characters are developed in this musical.

A mosaic of pointless stories

Each contestant comes forward and shares their own story in the most superficial way possible, resulting in a mosaic of pointless, scattered stories that barely connected to each other. There was no clear plot underpinning the mishmash of stories, no loose ends that could be satisfyingly connected at the end, no overwhelming or memorable climactic scene that would indelibly imprint at least some character or story or message in the minds of the audience. The closest thing to a plot was a fairly predictable romantic entanglement, which too, sadly, was never explored or exploited to its full potential and therefore felt specious and perfunctory.

An uninspiring musical that one forgets as soon as one leaves the theatre

The musical was ultimately a desultory blend of forgettable songs with lyrics that tried too hard to be funny or clever or emotional and ended up being none of the the above. The show did not explore any of the emotional or social aspects of baking, such as creativity, passion, friendship, competition or community. It did not celebrate diversity or inclusion. It did not make me laugh or cry. It did not make me hungry or inspired.

To be fair, the actors were talented and had good chemistry. They did a good job of portraying the different personalities of the contestants and the judges. The songs were catchy, albeit ultimately forgettable, especially the ones that parodied the show's signature phrases like "soggy bottom" and "star baker". The musical numbers were well-choreographed and colourful. The cakes were mouthwatering!

But overall, The Great British Bakeoff Musical was a wasted opportunity to make something fun and fresh out of a beloved TV phenomenon.

Two stars.

Watched March 2023 at the Noël Coward Theatre, London


PS: Cheap ticket tip - TodayTix has a rush sale that opens at 10 AM everyday for shows the same evening.

Baking reality TV show contestants standing together with cakes in front of them, cartoon image
Celebrating the AI and ChatGPT wave that you humans are all talking about, the bee had this picture generated by AI. Good fun.

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