The Great British Bake Off Musical Reviews – London

Reviews are coming in for The Great British Bake Off Musical, which has opened at the Noel Coward Theatre in London.

The Great British Bake Off Musical is based on the much-loved TV show, and takes audiences on a journey with amateur bakers as they strive to impress the judges and compete for the coveted title of Star Baker.

As the bakers navigate through various challenges, the audience is treated to some great songs, and much humour, as the bakers overcome obstacles, learn from their mistakes, and form unbreakable bonds in a touching tale of friendship and romance.

Written by Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary, and directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, the show was a success when it ran in Cheltenham last year, and is now playing at the West End’s Noel Coward Theatre until 13 May 2023.

The cast stars Haydn Gwynne (Billy Elliot the Musical, The Windsors) as judge Pam Lee – absolutely no relation to real-life Bake Off judge Prue Leith!, with West End and Broadway star John Owen-Jones (Les Misèrables, The Phantom of the Opera) as Phil Hollinghurst (aka Paul Hollywood)!

Joining them are Scott Paige (The Addams Family) and Zoe Birkett (Moulin Rouge! The Musical, The Bodyguard) as the presenters; and the contestants are Claire Moore (Mary Poppins), Charlotte Wakefield (The Boy In The Dress), Damian Humbley (Merrily We Roll Along), Jay Saighal (Hedda Gabler), Grace Mouat (SIX, Cinderella, Legally Blonde), Michael Cahill (Martin Guerre), Cat Sandison (Evita) and Aharon Rayner (Hex).

Aanya Shah, Amelie Rouse and Maisy Mein share the child role of Lily; and the understudies are Georgie Westall, Stuart Hickey, Jamil Abbasi, Louis Gaudencio, Gabriella Stylianou and Annette Yeo.

The Great British Bake Off was co-created by Anna Beattie and Richard McKerrow. The original creative team includes choreographer Georgina Lamb, set, costume and cake designer Alice Power, lighting designer Ben Cracknell, sound designer Ben Harrison, orchestrator Tom Curran, musical supervisor Mark Collins, and casting director Jim Arnold CDG.

Read reviews from Telegraph, Times, Evening Standard and more.

More reviews to follow

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The Great British Bake Off Musical reviews

The Times

"A fluffy show that’s risen beautifully"

"This show has put on a tiny bit of weight since it opened in Cheltenham last July and frankly it looks all the better for it. Yes, the West End incarnation is still as soft-centred as an eclair, but only an arch-curmudgeon could take offence at a celebration of a great British institution. If the storyline makes Love Island look like King Lear, the songs are witty, and Rachel Kavanaugh’s production is suffused with a self-deprecating sense of the ridiculous."

"[Haydn] Gwynne — so impressive in last year’s Stephen Sondheim tribute Old Friends — gives the venture extra gravitas, even if her part doesn’t stretch her too much."

"... John Owen-Jones gives a delightfully gruff performance as the silver-haired demigod, swaggering around in biker leathers and deigning to give a handshake from time to time. He also gets the best number, Slap It Like That, which, like many of the others, smuggles in plenty of double entendres amid the culinary metaphors."

Clive Davis, The Times
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The Telegraph

"A sugary soufflé that rises nicely"

"This slick, colourful musical adaptation of the all-conquering TV contest has an irresistibly sure sense of that show’s entertainment value"

"... both the post-winter timing and central location work in this feelgood spin-off’s favour. As you watch a packed, rapturously received performance, it’s clear this is going down a treat with Bake Off-istas."

"Rachel Kavanaugh’s slick, colourful production has such a sure sense of the show’s entertainment value and limitations (it knows that it’s not Great Art, down to the cheap and cheerful choreography) that I relented, and succumbed to its good-natured zest."

"Is there room for improvement? Yes. Some of the lyrics are so trite they might be generated by ChatGPT. But Brunger and Cleary display an unmistakable talent to amuse and ambush us with emotion too: pastiching a variety of musical genres to celebrate the show’s essence, and send it up, they also persuasively affirm baking as a means of overcoming life’s battles, whatever the outcome of the competition."

"twinkly John Owen-Jones and a surprise cartwheeling Haydn Gwynne, both superb"

"I went soft as a soufflé for Charlotte Wakefield as bashful Blackpool carer Gemma"

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
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The Independent

"Sweet songs and silly jokes, but the puns are overdone"

"A ‘Bake Off’ inspired musical was never going to be subtle, but the humour is surprisingly offbeat and self-aware"

"As you’d hope, the show, written by Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary, is heaps of fun and full of cracking songs. The more serious stuff might be a little saccharine, but you’ll leave with your appetite satisfied."

"Gwynn is undeniably the standout of this production, not only looking like Leith, but sounding like her even while singing opera. When she opens the second half with A Chorus Line-inspired number “Keep On Keeping On” in a sparkly dress, surrounded by dancers in sequinned aprons, she brings the house down."

"Brunger and Cleary’s score more than holds its own alongside other noteworthy new British musicals, but is let down slightly when the baking metaphors are forced onto more serious subject matter."

"But even in lyrically dodgy moments, these are songs you won’t be able to get out of your head – a rare thing for a new musical. The flavours here may not be subtle – but at least they’re punchy."

Isobel Lewis, The Independent
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The Evening Standard


"This is low-level entertainment for the undemanding, with brainless characters and unremarkable choreography"

"Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary’s show tries to channel the plucky amateurism, warmth and end-of-the-pier innuendo of the TV baking competition but the results are wilfully lame and cloyingly saccharine."

"Rachel Kavanaugh’s production is broadly well sung and exudes a brainless cheeriness, but overall it convinces me that the GBBO bandwagon has finally jumped the shark."

"Two attempts at deeper characterisation – Syrian Hassan’s refugee backstory, and Italian Francesca’s childlessness – are simply crass. Brunger is responsible for the script, which weaves an inane love story into the arc of a Bake Off season, as well as some behind-the flaps facts."

"Cleary composed the jaunty, forgettable music. She and Brunger share credit for the lyrics, which contain lots of stuff about rising, proving yourself and – yes, inevitably – soggy bottoms. Mostly the songs sound like they’ve been generated by ChatGPT software that’s been exposed to too much panto."

"This is low-level entertainment for the undemanding, that never rises to the level of a technical hit, let alone a showstopper."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Stage

"Scrappy, home-baked vibe"

"Musical version of the TV show is too vanilla"

"The Great British Cash-In, coming to the West End after proofing the pudding in Cheltenham earlier this year. Baking puns at the ready, everyone: is it just what we knead, does it rise to the occasion, is it half-baked? Well, none of the above, really. In a cheery production by Rachel Kavanaugh, it is a perfectly decent musical. But it can never quite work out what it wants to be."

"Scott Paige and Zoe Birkett play hosts Jim and Kim – Paige is a particular delight, with a couple of hilarious asides – while Paul-and-Prue-alikes come in the form of Phil and Pam, played as sharp caricatures by John Owen-Jones and Haydn Gwynne (taking over from Rosemary Ashe since Cheltenham). It is almost worth the whole endeavour just to see Gwynne do a cartwheel across the stage in a spangly leotard."

"All the ingredients are here for fans of the series, and Brunger and Cleary’s songs are good."

"Wakefield in particular nails her standout moments and the ensemble’s voices coalesce powerfully. But none of the contestants gets enough stage time to become fully formed, and there are some awkward choices..."

"It is also an extraordinarily bloated show, with very little plot and about 10 songs too many. And the skill of everyone involved could have been put to better effect: tonally, the show is all over the place..."

Tim Bano, The Stage
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"A rich aroma of pointlessness wafts off this musical homage to the TV show"

"Where most art forms strive for novelty, West End theatre’s appetite for artistic cannibalism is pretty much limitless, as it hungrily raids pop culture in search of sweet, sweet box office gold."

"I mean, baking-based innuendo and musical theatre numbers, what's not to like, right? In fact, even if you love its main ingredients, you might not be fully satisfied by Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary’s show... This musical resides deep in the murkiest dells of Uncanny Valley: everything about it feels faintly familiar, leaving you playing guessing games about what's been nicked from where."

"The thing that makes real-life episodes of ‘Bake Off’ enjoyable is the spontaneity, creativity and strangeness of ordinary people... But this musical plods rather than innovates"

"The tone might be relentlessly sweet, but it left a bitter taste in my mouth."

Alice Saville, TimeOut
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Daily Mail

"A mille-feuille with layers of jammy wokery and enough sugar to make the teeth scream"

"Syrian immigrant Hassan (Aharon Rayner) wonders if he is qualified to even enter the Bake Off competition... How lovely for Hassan, although one does long for a slice of modern entertainment that doesn't lecture audiences or club them over the head with the big stick of diversity at every opportunity. Slim hope. Fat chance."

"In the musical Bake Off tent, John Owen-Jones stars as Phil Hollinghurst (a gently disguised Paul Hollywood), while Haydn Gwynne plonks on her multi-coloured spectacles and hi-vis outfits for a fine turn as Pam Lee (aka Dame Prue). Together they sing the show's best number — a sparkling duet called I'd Never Be Me Without You."

"It's also noticeable that while the show packs in plenty of jokes about Pam/Prue, there are hardly any about Paul"

"The first night curtain came down to a standing ovation and everyone in the packed theatre seemed to absolutely adore the show. From the young woman with a purple Mohican to the three generations of the same family in front of me, the audience represented the immense span of the Bake Off appeal in one small theatre."

Jan Moir, Daily Mail
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The New York Times

"‘The Great British Bake Off Musical’ Is Sweet but Underbaked"

"In London, a stage show based on the popular TV series tries to capture the warmhearted appeal of the original"

"... the show, which opened on Monday at the Noël Coward Theater for a limited run through May 13, really is generous-spirited. During its two-and-a-half hour running time, the musical’s likability is never in question, even if its craft sometimes is: You can’t help wishing the creators had been as exacting with their own material as some of the contestants are with their ovens."

"But perhaps the biggest appeal of the TV material is the cross-section of British society the competitors represent. The musical, perhaps inevitably but also rather drippily, whisks dollops of uplift into the mix."

"This musical occupies a different, more innocent world — one in which strudels are restorative and, as the show puts it, “cake is the cure.” I’m as fully on board with that message as anyone. What’s needed is more art to accompany the heart."

Matt Wolf, The New York Times
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i News

"Sugary but no showstopper"

"All but the most die-hard fans will need richer sustenance"

"If you’re looking for camp, London’s Noël Coward theatre is serving it up."

"If your idea of a great night out is watching a top-tier Paul Hollywood impersonator (John Owen-Jones, uncanny) suggestively slap a strudel into shape, you’re in for a treat. But over the course of this two hours and thirty minutes, one sometimes longs for something more."

"Cleary has become our first female composer to have two musicals on simultaneously in the West End, with the joyous My Son’s A Queer on up the road at the Ambassadors."

"Gwynne and Owen-Jones are a delight as barely-disguised versions of Leith and Hollywood, as are Zoe Birkett and Scott Paige as more generic TV presenters."

"Yet there’s little to surprise and towards the end, loose ends are tied up in a rush. Brunger and Cleary even seem to duck out of showing us key storytelling moments: complex plot developments curiously happen off-stage."

Kate Maltby, i News
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The Observer

"Paul and Prue become song-and-dance naturals"

"I was anticipating a Great British Rip Off, flat as a failed sponge. Inevitably, it does depend on the Channel 4 series (with about 8 million viewers in the UK), but the show manages to have its cake and eat it – an unexpected treat. Exuberantly directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, it simmers with good songs (a poor man’s Cole Porter, if one were being a snob) yet is affectionately satirical."

"Haydn Gwynne is a hoot as “Pam”, a sprightly, rainbow-clad dynamo with the signature tune Keep on Keeping on. Silver hair is no deterrent to anything (she even puts in a dashing cartwheel) while retaining (part of the job?) her upper-crust voice. John Owen-Jones, meanwhile, nails Paul Hollywood exactly. A top-notch cast is led by super-tuneful Charlotte Wakefield as Gemma, a humble carer from Blackpool (but can she win?)."

Kate Kellaway, The Observer
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The Sunday Times

"It gave me tooth rot"

"A stage spin-off of the show is a horribly saccharine enterprise"

"This spin-off from the television show is a shamelessly saccharine enterprise. It comes at you with its whisks at full pelt, aimed at your wallet."

"Producers have to make a profit and the West End is fully entitled to play the mushy card. The problem here is that the musical aims to poke fun at TV’s Bake Off for its clichés while being clunkily formulaic. The tunes are pathetic."

Quentin Letts, The Sunday Times
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📷 Main photo: The Great British Bake Off Musical. Photo by Manuel Harlan

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