Todd Buonopane and Sherri L. Edelen star in Signature Theater's production of "Cake Off" now through Nov. 22.
It’s the 50th Annual Millberry Cake Off. The legendary jackpot: $1 million for the best homemade sugary delight. After a chilly pre-heating, contestants Paul and Rita don their aprons, strap on their oven mitts and square off. Armed with whisks, bowls, knives and eggs, the two engage in an increasingly ludicrous all-out brawl — and only one can remain standing when the timer dings.
"Cake Off," a musical satire written by Sheri Wilner, Julia Jordan and Adam Gwon, is presented by Signature Theater now through Nov. 22 as part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival.
Todd Buonopane plays the role of Paul Hubbard, living proof that good guys don't always finish first. "He is a good-hearted fella that always tries to take the high road," he said. "But his wife has left him for her personal trainer and his world is falling apart. He enters the Cake Off as a last effort to bond with his son."
He said he could't love the role more, but this is one of the most complicated shows he's ever worked on. "Sherri Edelen and I are often baking and singing and spinning (on a turn-table) at the same time. We are breaking eggs, stirring batter and pouring chocolate for real on stage. Luckily our characters are meant to look stressed during the baking rounds. There's not a lot of acting going on there."
He added: "’Cake Off’ is hilarious and fun, but it's also moving and poignant. The show will really get you thinking about gender politics. Most of all, I hope the audiences realize the brilliance of our writers: Sheri Wilner, Julia Jordan and Adam Gwon."
He said that a musical is tough to create, but with the guidance of director Joe Calarco, they have created a fantastic new American musical.
Sherri L. Edelen plays the role of Rita Gaw, an intelligent wife and mother of five. "She was accepted into college in the mid '60s to study chemistry, but married her high school sweetheart and dropped out of college to raise their children," she said. "She sold Avon to help put her husband through law school. He divorced her when most of the children were young adults," she said. "Chemistry is her passion, so she transferred her passion into baking."
She added: "She's the kind of person who does everything well. When you meet her in the play, she is a third-time contestant in the Millberry Cake Off."
In addition to the props being a major challenge to work with, she said there were several audience takeaways from the show: "1) Equal rights for women is still an issue today; 2) Parents often sacrifice their personal dreams for their children; and 3) Life is in constant change and so are you. There is always time for dreams to come true."
Signature Theater is presenting "Cake Off" now through Nov. 22. Show times are Tuesdays through Sundays (check the times). Tickets are $40 to $97. Discussion Nights are Wednesday, Oct. 14, Tuesday, Oct. 27, and Wednesday, Nov. 4; Pride Nights are Fridays, Oct. 16 and Nov. 6. Open Captioned Performances are Nov. 15 at 2 p.m. and Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. Signature Theater is located at 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. Visit www.sigtheatre.org/.