Stephen Schwarz is a household name wherever musical comedies are relished. Best known for Godspell, Pippin, and Wicked, one of his best works is all but forgotten: The Baker’s Wife. Aside from splendid music and lyrics that at times seems like operetta, the book by Joseph Stein is perceptive about the nature of desire. This makes for a deeply felt story of a love triangle in a provincial French village.
When Aimiable (Bradley Greenwald), the new town baker, realizes his much younger wife, Genevieve (Jill Iverson) has run off with the younger, studly Dominique (Philip C. Matthews), he plunges into depression. He finds himself unable to bring himself to bake, so the townspeople, desperate for his delicious bread, go to seek out the adulterers. However, Genevieve’s consciousness shifts as she comes to realize how good looks and youthfulness can trick us into regrettable decisions. And, moreover, that experience reshapes the essence of how we desire. It’s a musical that is very, very wise about human nature.
The three actors deliver compelling performances that reveal the arrogance, the inadequacy, and the uncertainty of how the nature of desire can trip us up. Directed with sensitivity by Ben McGovern, whose entire cast is vibrant. Excellent music direction by Anita Ruth.
The Baker’s Wife
Through Nov. 12
Bloomington Center for the Arts, 1800 W Old Shakopee Rd., Bloomington