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A CurtainUp D Review
The characters portrayed on stage are losers, winning not just the competition but their self esteem would be their best revenge. Rita Gaw (the perfectly-cast Sherri L. Edelen), mother of five and baker extraordinaire, is divorced. Her husband left her. Paul Hubbard (the perfectly-cast Todd Buonopane) is also alone. His wife left him for her personal trainer as both parents compete for the attention and affection of their 12-year old son, Wyatt/Sweetie Boy (played with innocence and charm by Ian Berlin.)
If there is a winner in this show, part of the Women's Voices Theater Festival now taking place in Washington, it is actor Jamie Smithson. He plays Jack DeVault, an "attention whore" who emcees the Cake Off. Being on tv is his payback to a distant and inattentive father. Smithson, who salvages the play, also portrays two women: Lenora Nesbit, a Southerner whose steely advice belies her sweet-as-can-be demeanor, and Nancy Demarco, who advises Rita Gaw to be more feminine, to wear makeup, to woo the judges with smiles and condescending remarks. Edelen is particularly amusing in this scene.
Joe Calarco, Signature's Director of New Works, has his actors start out slowly presumably to build comic momentum. But there is little gathering of speed until the final ten minutes when Edelen lets loose with "You Can't Have This," a diatribe against the injustices women faced in the early stages of women's lib (and later.)
Several names are credited with the show. It is based on the original play by Sheri Wilner, with book by Sheri Wilner and Julia Jordan, lyrics by Julia Jordan and Adam Gwon, with music by Adam Gwon. Unfortunately too many cooks have spoiled Cake Off. It is half-baked.