Walking into the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, I was not prepared for the amount of talent I was about to witness. Once the cherry-pie-patterned curtain lifted up, the combined talents of playwright Jessie Nelson and composer Sara Bareilles shined through. The complete silence of the theatre brought the audience’s attention in right from the beginning with the simple words, “sugar, butter, flour” resting in our ears.
At the start of the show, the importance of baking to Jenna, the main character, is established through the song “What’s Inside.” From this point on, it is clear that she bakes not only to fulfill her passion, but also to express herself. In fact, she does this after the song “Opening Up” sets the plot in motion. In this song, she finally finds out she is pregnant, which awakens an important realization: she should find a way out of her abusive relationship, not only for herself, but for her baby that is on the way. This awareness she gains snowballs into a long series of events, which result in her learning to put herself first.
Jenna (Desi Oakley), Becky (Charity Dawson) and Dawn (Lenne Klingaman) all had outstanding voices. There was not a moment where the emotion was lost from their performance. Before even making it through the first quarter of the show, the person who accompanied me was so taken by Oakley’s voice that she leaned in towards me and said, “I already know I’m going to memorize every song in this show once I leave.” Right from the start, the quality of their performance was undeniable.
In addition to their great acting and singing, the technical aspects were executed so effortlessly. Scene changes went smoothly, audio levels were perfect and the sets established the setting perfectly. The colors and simplicity of the various sets in different scenes were visually pleasing and easy to follow. Nothing was unusual in the sets or characters’ appearances; this does not take away from the quality of the show, in fact it adds to the relatability of the all the emotions displayed. Jenna’s yearning to get out of her town and start a new life for herself is emphasized by the ordinariness of her surroundings.
If it is not clear yet, this show met my high expectations. It allowed me to feel along with every character. I felt like I fully understood Jenna’s indecisiveness, Becky’s hidden sadness and Dawn’s fearfulness towards romance. Overall, I would give the show a 10 out of 10.