May 132012

If you’re into pastry, “Cupcake” is for you. But if you expect something more filling, then I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for this creative team’s next baking session.

Cupcake. Book by Bradley Seeman. Music by Michael Wartofsky. Lyrics by David Reiffel. Produced and directed by Guy Ben-Aharon. At Club Cafe Boston, 209 Columbus Avenue, Boston, MA, through June 24.

By Peter-Adrian Cohen.

Hallie Brevetti as the Librarian, Grant MacDermott as Tom, and Max Sangerman as the Lifeguard in CUPCAKE. Photo: Joel Benjamin

This new musical (receiving its world premiere) is theater’s equivalent of a “summer movie,” a fact highlighted by the director/producer, Guy Ben-Aharon: “The musical celebrates all that is summer and fun.” And, in fact, the cast of five brings plenty of energy to this task; if you are into youth and good looks, you’re getting all you can digest.

But I admit I missed the two ingredients that transform a work of convincing craft into a work of convincing art: surprise and surprise’s twin brother, leaps of the imagination. Is the cupcake-baker straight or is he gay? Does he have a legal permit to sell his cakes? These are the basic questions Cupcake raises. Now I grant it’s all done charmingly. But does celebrating “all that is summer and fun” excuse all that is omitted here? If you are the type of theatergoer who yearns for a more engaging, more honest take on Provincetown in summer and on the high drama of ANY relationship—straight or gay—this musical will leave you full but not filled.

As for the songs in Cupcake (accompanied by Michael Wartofsky, their composer), I found myself asking what they contribute to the story. Do they add more than simply calories? But then what can you expect from a story in which the protagonist is a cupcake?—that is, a fit, strapping, young baker? The exception is the song “I’ve Got A Crush”—sung by the Lifeguard (Max Sangerman) and the Librarian (Hallie Brevetti)—which shows the level of intensity to which music and lyrics could have been taken.

There are a couple of nice directorial/design touches: principally the love-scene in which Tom the baker (Grant MacDermott) and the Librarian (Hallie Brevetti) stand in front of (as opposed to lying down on) a beach-towel.

As I said, if you’re into pastry, this evening is for you.

But if you expect something more filling, then I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for this creative team’s next baking session; the ingredients, the talent, are obviously there.


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