note: entire contents copyright 2012 by Sheila Barth
When composer Michael Wartofsky and lyricist David Reiffel visited Provincetown in 2010 and read a headline in the Provincetown Banner about a cupcake-selling street vendor arrested for peddling his sweet wares, they decided to write a lighthearted musical comedy about it. They discussed their venture with their fellow Harvard graduate-book club writer friend, Bradley Seeman, who liked the idea and wrote the book/libretto for “Cupcake” in 72 hours. Shortly thereafter, the new cabaret-style, audience-interactive, zany musical was born. Cape Cod tourist destination, Provincetown, becomes Summertown in this 70-minute, all-Boston based, musical comedy romp, with its star-studded cast, crew and producer-director Guy Ben-Aharon, a 22-year-old meteoric director who has gathered supporters and fans internationally and locally.
Wartofsky, a well-known Berklee College of Music professor and composer, who accompanies the five actors on piano, has another new show, “Car Talk:The Musical,” premiering this week at Central Square Theater in Cambridge. Reiffel, an award-winning lyricist and lighting designer, is another Boston headliner.
“Cupcake” is a light-hearted,silly, confectionary bit of fluff that treats its talented cast and audiences to lots of fun, interacting with each other while delivering Seeman’s battery of play-on-words, Reiffel’s clever, satiric lyrics and Wartofsky’s hummable music.
Larry Sousa’s lighting, including multi-colored swirls and spotlights highlighting rapid scene changes on the small stage, enliven the fast-paced wackiness.
Besides poking fun with each other, the actors weave through the audience, trade banter, borrow a sweater, or maintain eye contact throughout the show, elevating the fun in this 99-seat cabaret space, set with tables or rows of chairs for general seating only.
Versatile, multi-award winning actress Karen MacDonald is a hoot as she sheds and dons outfits, accents and persona with split-second timing, portraying a typical small-town male tourist, a gavel-banging Judge Judy-type court magistrate and high-pressured, flask-toting realtor. MacDonald’s solo, “Lament of the Real Estate Agent,” is a show-stealer, winning hearty applause.
The plot revolves around naive, good-looking, summertime vendor Tom, whom Grant MacDermott portrays with charming innocence as he’s pursued relentlessly by stalwart rookie cop, Officer Stone (Mark Linehan). Also on Tom’s trail, but hungering romantically for his affection and confection are a nerdy, sexy librarian, (Hallie Brevetti) and handsome, hunky lifeguard, (Max Sangerman). Early on, the duo leads a comical inquiry about Tom’s sexual preference, confessing in their song, “I’ve Got a Crush,” on the clueless baker; but Tom’s delight is focused on creating delicious cupcakes, and spreading the love and joy of them to others. It’s “The Icing on the Cake,” he sings.
I won’t reveal here who wins Tom or melts Officer Stone’s regimented heart, but as Tom says, “It’s icing on the cake.”
BOX INFO: One-act musical comedy, book by Bradley Seeman, music by Michael Wartofsky, lyrics by David Reiffel, appearing through June 24, at Club Cafe, 209 Columbus Ave., Boston, Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday brunch-matinee shows June 17,24, at 2 p.m. Tickets: $25-$35; special group discounts. Visit www.clubcafe.com or call 617-536-0966.