If you’ve ever lived in a small town, you understand all too well that its nosy residents aren’t happy unless there’s something to gossip or kvetch about. So when a bread-deprived French village welcomes its new baker to town, you’d expect everyone to be deliriously happy.
But not in “The Baker’s Wife” that’s now playing at Ann Arbor’s Performance Network Theatre.
No, their happiness quickly gives way to rumor and innuendo when his beautiful, but much younger wife attracts the attention of a devilishly handsome stud who craves her for himself. And when she disappears into the night and leaves her devoted husband behind, the town panics – not because of his hurt and pain, but because he’s stopped making their tasty treats.
So what’s a self-centered town to do?
That’s the question director Carla Milarch delectably answers in the theater’s biggest and most ambitious show ever. And it’s one of the most charming.
What’s especially alluring about this Stephen Schwartz musical is its mix of new and familiar talent, imaginatively guided by Milarch and choreographer Jim Posante across a gorgeous, multi-level set by Monika Essen that also houses the show’s three musicians. The result is a high-energy ensemble in which all 18 contribute several fine moments.
Linda Rabin Hammell, for example, has one of the strongest voices – and shines as Therese, the prissy old maid.
Kevin T. Young lights the stage as the town goofball, Antione, while Laurel Hufano once again proves her comic genius as the put-upon wife, Hortense. (You can’t keep your eyes off her in the musical number “Feminine Companionship.”)
And Brian Thibault and Andriana Pachella are adorable as the roguish Dominique and the baker’s wife Genevieve.
But it’s John Seibert as the baker who rises to the top with his perfectly cooked performance.
(FOR “REVIEW BOX”)
‘The Baker’s Wife’
Performance Network Theatre, 120 E. Huron, Ann Arbor. Thu.-Sun., through Dec. 23. Tickets: $30-$42. For information: 734-663-0681 or http://www.performancenetwork.org