The Baker's Daughter | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Baker's Daughter 

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The Baker's Daughter, a highly derivative, lowbrow melange of Sweeney Todd and Little Shop of Horrors, aims low and, more often than not, hits its target.

The alleged musical comedy takes place at a Chicago bakery over the course of a day sometime in the 70s (the period has little significance other than to provide highly unflattering costumes). Martha plots to murder her oafish husband and spoiled stepdaughter then use the insurance money to escape to Paris with her moony-eyed daughter Louise. After beating the living crap out of her husband with a rolling pin and suffocating her stepdaughter in a bag of flour, Martha hits a snag when Louise falls madly in love with a nerdy bookworm named Henry. The intrigue hinges on whether Louise and Henry will run away together before evil Martha kills Henry too.

Kevin Kosik's book and lyrics generally strive to be cute and dumb, relying primarily on trite turns of phrase. "With you on my team, life would be a dream," the lovers sing. "I need to get away, far away," Louise frets. "The world is your oyster," Martha tells Louise. Occasionally Kosik tries to be outrageous, as in the winkingly cannibalistic ditty "Ladyfingers" (a woefully simplistic attempt at rewriting Sweeney Todd's chillingly hilarious "A Little Priest"), but the script is too goofy and implausible for its sicko plot twists ever to be taken seriously. And the humor is strictly B-grade sitcom material. When Martha stabs one of her victims, she's worried about the bloodstains on her dress: "It's going to cost a fortune to have it dry-cleaned."

Sarah Motes Montgomery's score is a pleasant but unmemorable collection of pop tunes that are soupy or snappy or sappy. Sometimes all three. Montgomery, who plays Martha, camps up her role for maximum easy laughs, gleefully belting out her songs, high-kicking and dancing her way across the stage. Sarah Worthington as stepdaughter Victoria possesses a wonderful singing voice but squeals her way through her spoken lines, whining about her nails and her hair at a pitch unsuitable for human ears. Michael Annetta and Renee Krawitz have some cute moments as the lovers, cartoonishly beaming at each other like Walt Disney's lady and the tramp. And playing the baker Max, Michael Hance can usually carry a tune.

Stale songs, a half-baked script--a pretty crummy show.


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