In 1976, 28-year-old Stephen Schwartz seemed to be the most successful Broadway songwriter of his generation, with three musicals playing in New York simultaneously: Godspell (which transferred to Broadway following a lengthy off-Broadway run during the year), Pippin, and The Magic Show. Schwartz's next musical was thus highly anticipated. It was The Baker's Wife, based on the French novel La Femme du Boulanger by Marcel Pagnol and Jean Giono, and the classic 1938 film directed by Pagnol, about a romantic triangle involving a baker, his wife, and a shepherd. Originally, the production starred Topol (known for the London and film versions of Fiddler on the Roof), but he was eventually replaced, surprisingly, by the character actor Paul Sorvino, a newcomer to musical theater. Opposite him was up-and-coming Juilliard-trained actress/singer Patti LuPone, while Kurt Peterson ably played the shepherd. The show opened its pre-Broadway tour in Los Angeles on May 11, 1976, but something went wrong on the way to New York, and The Baker's Wife never got there, closing in Washington, D.C.
Set in 1935 in a small French village, 'The Baker's Wife' explores the nature of marriage and the unpredictable excitement of the knight in shining armour. If bread represents life then the baker's new young wife represents danger to the people of this community. We discover stories told when you were a child can often backfire horribly in adult life.
Based on the French film La Femme du Boulanger by Marcel Pagnol and Jean Giono.
The musical theater rights of the Marcel Pagnol's 1938 film were originally optioned in 1952 by producers Cy Feuer and Ernest Martin. Composer Frank Loesser and librettist Abe Burrows, who had worked with Feuer and Martin on Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying were attached as authors. The production to star Bert Lahr, however, never materialized. Nearly a decade later Zero Mostel was named to take the lead.
By 1976 the rights had devolved to producer David Merrick. The production by Stephen Schwartz and Joseph Stein toured the United States for six months in 1976, undergoing major retoolings along the way. It played the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles in May 1976 and also the Kennedy Center, Washington, DC. (in November 1976). Topol as the baker Amiable, was replaced by Paul Sorvino during the last 2 weeks of the Kennedy Center run, and his wife Geneviève was played by Carole Demas who was eventually replaced by Patti LuPone. The production never reached Broadway, the authors having pulled out of the production in the try-out process.
After hearing the song "Meadowlark" countless times in auditions, director Trevor Nunn persuaded the authors to mount a London production. The Baker's Wife, starring Alun Armstrong and Sharon Lee-Hill, opened in the West End at the Phoenix Theatre on November 27, 1989 and closed on January 6, 1990, after 56 performances. This production, too, was ill-fated: though reviews were strong and audience reaction positive, the production was steadily losing money. According to Carol De Giere, "While reviewers offered praise, audiences were small and the show closed after only 56 performances. Schwartz explains,'The major thing that was wrong was that it was just too long'...Nunn comments 'Every performance there had a standing ovation, which is not at all normal in the English provinces." Bowing to financial reality, the show closed prematurely, but received the Laurence Olivier Award nomination for Musical of the Year.
The creative team reunited for the 1997 production at The Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres in Nappanee, Indiana, that was directed by Scott Schwartz, and the production at the Goodspeed Opera House, Norma Terris Theatre, Chester, Connecticut in November 2002.
The Papermill Playhouse, Milburn, New Jersey, produced the show from April 13 - May 15, 2005. The director was Gordon Greenberg, with choreography by Christopher Gattelli and the cast that starred Alice Ripley as Genevieve, Max von Essen as Dominique, Lenny Wolpe as Amiable, Gay Marshall (Denise) and Richard Pruitt (Claude). The Papermill included the reworking of the relationship between the characters of Geneviève and Dominique as well as new lyrics for "Proud Lady".
An Australian premiere of the show, directed by Prof. Peter Fitzpatrick, had a Melbourne production in late 2007.
The York Theatre, New York, presented a staged concert October 26–28, 2007.
The award winning Union Theatre produced The Baker's Wife in Sept/Oct 2011 starring Lisa Stokke and Michael Matus. It was staged and directed by Michael Strassen and received rave reviews prompting reviewer Mark Shenton to write 'Michael Strassen reclaims The Baker's Wife forever as the affecting miniature masterpiece that has always been lurking inside it' (see website reviews/Union Award)
This song list reflects the recording of the 1990 London production.
"Chanson" – Denise
"If It Wasn't for You" – Teacher, Priest, Marquis, and Villagers
"Merci, Madame" – Amiable and Geneviève
"Bread – Villagers
"Gifts of Love" – Geneviève
"Plain and Simple" – Amiable and Geneviève
"Proud Lady" – Dominique
"Look for the Woman" – Teacher, Marquis, Claude, Barnabé, Antoine, Casimir, Pierre, Doumergue
"Chanson (Reprise)" – Denise
"Serenade" – Dominique, Philippe, Amiable, and Geneviève
"Meadowlark" – Geneviève
"Buzz A-Buzz" – Amiable, Marquis, Philippe, Villagers
"Chanson (Reprise)" – Denise
"If It Wasn't for You" – Priest, Teacher, Marquis, and Villagers
"Any-Day-Now Day" – Amiable, Villagers
"Endless Delights" – Dominique, Geneviève
"Luckiest Man in the World" – Claude, Village Men, Marquis, Simone, Inès, Nicole
"Feminine Companionship" – Claude, Village Men, Marquis, Simone, Inès, Nicole
"If I Have to Live Alone" – Amiable
"Romance" – Denise, Hortense, Thérèse, Simone, Inez, Nicole
"Where is the Warmth?" – Geneviève
"Gifts of Love (Reprise)" – Denise, Amiable, Geneviève, Villagers
"Chanson (Reprise)" – Denise, Amiable, Geneviève, Villagers
Aucun dossier informatif complémentaire concernant Baker's wife
Baker's wife (1976-05-Pre-Broadway Tour Try Out)Type de série: Pre-Broadway Try Out
Théâtre: US Tour ( - Etats-Unis) Durée : 3 mois Nombre : Première Preview : mardi 11 mai 1976Première : mercredi 11 août 1976Dernière : samedi 13 novembre 1976Mise en scène : Chorégraphie : Producteur : Commentaires : Pre Broadway Tour qui n'a jamais atteint Broadway… "Closed on the road" comme on dit!
Baker's wife (1985-03-Church of the Heavenly Rest-Off Off Broadway)Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: Church of the Heavenly Rest (Broadway (Off-Off) - Etats-Unis) Durée : Nombre : 20 représentationsPremière Preview : dimanche 24 mars 1985Première : dimanche 24 mars 1985Dernière : InconnuMise en scène : Stephen Schwartz • Chorégraphie : Producteur : Avec : Aimable ... Jack Weston / Geneviève ... Joyce Leigh Bowden / Dominic ... Kevin Gray / Denise ... Judith Lander / Performer ... Charles Goff, Hal Robinson, Gabriel Barre, Florence Anglin, Bert Fraser, Paul O'Keefe
Baker's wife (1989-11-Phoenix Theatre-London)Type de série:
Théâtre: Phoenix Theatre (Londres - Angleterre) Durée : 1 mois 1 semaine Nombre : 56 représentationsPremière Preview : lundi 27 novembre 1989Première : lundi 27 novembre 1989Dernière : samedi 06 janvier 1990Mise en scène : Trevor Nunn • Chorégraphie : David Toguri • Producteur : Avec : Alun Armstrong (Aimable Castagnet), Sharon Lee Hill (Genevieve), Drue Williams (Dominic), James Villiers (Le Marquis), Jill Martin (Denise), George Raistrick (Claude)Commentaires : The show was heavily re-written for London, but closed fairly quickly even
though many critics thought it the very best of Stephen Schwartz’s work.Commentaires longs: After hearing the song "Meadowlark" countless times in auditions, director Trevor Nunn persuaded the authors to mount a London production. The Baker's Wife, starring Alun Armstrong and Sharon Lee-Hill, opened in the West End at the Phoenix Theatre on November 27, 1989 and closed on January 6, 1990, after 56 performances. This production, too, was ill-fated: though reviews were strong and audience reaction positive, the production was steadily losing money. According to Carol De Giere, "While reviewers offered praise, audiences were small and the show closed after only 56 performances. Schwartz explains,'The major thing that was wrong was that it was just too long'...Nunn comments 'Every performance there had a standing ovation, which is not at all normal in the English provinces."
Bowing to financial reality, the show closed prematurely, but received the Laurence Olivier Award nomination for Musical of the Year.
Baker's wife (2011-09-Union Theatre-London)Type de série: Revival
Théâtre: Union Theatre (Londres - Angleterre) Durée : 3 semaines Nombre : Première Preview : mercredi 21 septembre 2011Première : vendredi 23 septembre 2011Dernière : samedi 15 octobre 2011Mise en scène : Michael Strassen • Chorégraphie : Producteur : Avec : Lisa Stokke (Genevieve), Michael Matus (Aimable), Matthew Goodgame (Dominique), James Ballanger, Ricky Butt, Joanna Kirkland, Mark Lawson, Karl Moffatt, Ian Mowat, Natalie Viccars, Craig Webb, Ross Witherden.Commentaires : Enfin une version bien accueillie par le public et par la presse.Commentaires longs: .Presse : THE STAGE (Mark Shenton): 'It's becoming commonplace to declare that a show at the tiny fringe powerhouse of the Union Theatre is a musical miracle, but one has definitely occurred now with its turn-around of a legendary flop into something that is truly beautiful, tender and true'
'Michael Strassen reclaims The Baker's Wife for ever as the affecting miniature masterpiece that has always been lurking inside it. By reducing the scale, Strassen amplifies the emotion, and I was in tears frequently throughout his gorgeously sung, superbly staged production.'
'Michael Matus brings heartbreaking strength to the baker … Lisa Stokke is piercingly lovely as his wife Genevieve.'
WHATSONSTAGE (Michael Coveney): 'Michael Strassen's Union revival – he really does these small-scale re-heats very well…'
'…one really good song – "Meadowlark" — which Stokke does delightfully, spreading her wings metaphorically and soaring from an initial crouching posture.'
GUARDIAN (Lyn Gardner): 'The fine cast of 18 attests to the depth and breadth of current British musical talent, and there are two knock-out performances from Michael Matus as the Baker and Ricky Butt as the cafe owner's wife, Denise…'
BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE (Howard Loxton): '…this production deserves much more than its presently scheduled run. Meanwhile grab a ticket if you can.'
'Musical director Chris Mundy has done a marvellous job in drawing such precision and blended harmony from the company and with Colin Clark on cello produces a sound that feels like a full pit orchestra. Bravo!'
BROADWAYWORLD.COM (Gary Naylor): '…standout performances from Michael Matus as Aimable the Baker and Ricky Butt as Denise, the funny and clever proprietress of the village cafe.'
'…it gives a layer of subtlety to a production that leaves one with rather more to chew over than the average romcom'
EXUENT MAGAZINE (Julia Rank): 'Strasssen's production is engagingly staged, enjoyable to watch and captures the Union's characteristic warmth'
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