Log In

Reset Password

Theater Review: Revised Cult Musical Given Terrific Treatment At Theater Barn



Text Size

RIDGEFIELD — While musicals like Godspell, Wicked and Pippin are familiar to most, the Stephen Schwartz musical The Baker’s Wife is less familiar.

It ran for a total of 56 performances in London in 1989. Its most familiar point is the hit song “Meadowlark,” which came from the musical. The song has become a standard in the musical theater circuit, being heard at cabaret nights and auditions all over the world.

A new production of the cult musical is now in performances at Ridgefield Theater Barn under the direction of Rena Gavigan, with the blessing of Schwarz. The newly revised version is making its debut in Ridgefield before hopping the pond once again for the first London Revival at Menier Chocolate Factory later this summer.

The Baker’s Wife is a musical based on the 1938 French film of the same name. It tells the tale of a small provincial town in France whose bickering residents anticipate the arrival of a new baker, Aimable (played in Ridgefield by Joe Harding). He stuns the town when he arrives with his much younger wife Genevieve (Claire Simard).

Genevieve eventually gets wooed away by a younger man and leaves the baker forlorn and without his zest for life. If the village wants tasty bread again they must bring Genevieve back to be reunited with her Aimable.

Harding is a local theater legend. He brings humor and heartbreak to this character, who could become a cartoon in anyone else’s hands.

With this show, Harding is giving one of the best performances of his career. From his beautiful singing voice to his heartbreaking acting, this is a performance that will not soon be forgotten.

Simard plays Genevieve with such grace and charm. The chemistry between Simard and Harding is electric. The audience genuinely feels Genevieve’s struggle choosing who she wants to spend her life with.

Simard gets the show’s signature song and knocks it out of the park. Her beautiful rendition of “Meadowlark” blows the roof off the barn. Luckily, they are finishing up renovations, so it couldn’t be better timing.

This show is truly an ensemble piece. The townspeople play a huge role in the dynamics of this show. A few standouts include Robert Roda as the town priest, and Bill Warncke and Matthew Donovan as feuding friends Claude and Barnaby.

Another acknowledgement must be given to Jennifer Delancey Agro as Pompom, the Baker’s cat. In this production, the cat is a puppet created by Master Puppeteer Martin P. Robinson (Sesame Street). Agro’s puppeteering is seamless and brings adorable life to Pompom.

Special mention must also go to Sophie Bardos for her incredible production design. The set is one that rivals a professional Broadway production. That set design was brought to life by Michael Macri and Claudia Noel Nerreau.

It is also wonderful to hear a musical score played by a 14 piece orchestra, led by the incomparable Sarah Fox. This is Fox’s first show with RTB and hopefully not her last. Show aside, the audience could have sat there and just listened to the score being played and they would have been satisfied.

The show runs at the Ridgefield Theater Barn through the end of June, but as of right now the run is sold out. Call the theater (203-431-9850) or visit ridgefieldtheaterbarn.org for availability or to get put on the waiting list. You won’t be sorry you did.

If a small provincial village in France wants tasty bread again they must bring Genevieve (Claire Simard) back to be reunited with her Aimable (Joe Hardin, on the balcony). Stephen Schwartz’s The Baker’s Wife is enjoying a very successful production at Ridgefield Theater Barn. —Sophie Bardos photo
Comments are open. Be civil.

Leave a Reply