The Baker's Wife
WINNER - Best Actor in a Musical (BATS) - Darrell Smith
26th April - 1st May 2010
Photographs by John Tustin
Production Officials
Director Nora Howcroft
Musical Director Karl Pendlebury
Choreographer Lara Crombie
Aimable John Preston
Genevieve Lindsay Farnworth
Denise Jane Bickerstaffe
Claude Mike Bailey
M. Martine Alan Hitchen
Therese Louise Steggals
Pierre Andrew Turton
Doumergue Norman Bowers
Antoinette Kathy Turton
Barnaby Joe Connor
Hortense Gill Pollitt
M. le Cure David Witt
M. le Marquis * Don Howcroft
Simone Jess Barnett
Inez Pamela Heywood-Connor
Nicole Carole Brooks
Dominique Darrell Smith
Philippe Zoe Pollitt
Norma Dootson, Paul Duckworth, Barbara Martin, Ruth Prescott, Mary Pycroft, Maria Sharrocks, Janet Smith, Joyce Walters, Janet Witt

* Due to illness after the first performance, for the remainder of the week the part of M. le Marquis was played by Joe Connor and the part of Barnaby was played by Mike Taylor, as shown below.
  • Aimable and Genevieve Aimable and Genevieve
  • Aimable and townsfolk Aimable and townsfolk
  • Genevieve and Dominique Genevieve and Dominique
  • Townsfolk Townsfolk
  • Doumergue and Pierre Doumergue and Pierre
  • Townsfolk Townsfolk
  • Barnaby, Aimable and Claude Barnaby, Aimable and Claude
  • Aimable and townsfolk Aimable and townsfolk
  • Genevieve, Aimable, Dominique and Philippe Genevieve, Aimable, Dominique and Philippe
  • Therese and townsfolk Therese and townsfolk
  • M. le Marquis, Simone, Nicole and Inez M. le Marquis, Simone, Nicole and Inez
  • Genevieve and Dominique Genevieve and Dominique
  • M. Martine M. Martine
  • Genevieve and Aimable Genevieve and Aimable
  • Simone, Denise and Inez Simone, Denise and Inez
  • Townsfolk Townsfolk
  • Aimable and Genevieve Aimable and Genevieve

  • Bolton News Review
  • NODA North West News Review
Fans of Joanne Harris' Chocolat will adore this vibrant musical which takes the audience to an idyllic location in the South of France. Walmsley Church Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society presents The Baker's Wife. Bringing The Baker's Wife to the stage in Bolton is a real coup for the society. For they brought it to the stage many years ago when it was released for the first time, before it was withdrawn. It has just been re-released and the society grabbed the opportunity to stage this delightful musical once again.

The production lives up to its billing as a comedy musical, but it also includes drama – in some cases melodrama – and real human emotion conveyed via the powerful voices of the cast. Set in the Concorde, life centres on a bakery which through its reputation of producing the finest bread and cakes brings the villagers together. A shock incident leaves the locals without their bread but serves to rekindle the passion and friendship they once had and shared. Timing is vital to a musical like this, which in part, deals with an uncomfortable theme and excellent stage direction uses the comedy element perfectly to put the audience at ease.

John Preston who plays the baker Aimable, is most believable, his singing and acting skills are excellent, raising laughs while also being able to silence the audience when comedy moves to powerful drama. He is complemented perfectly by his wife Genevieve, played by Lindsay Farnworth, who depicts the changes her character undergoes via her versatile voice. Newcomer Darrell Smith (Dominique) could be straight out of the West End with his singing skills. Other notable characters include Kathy Turton (Antoinette) who simply commanded the stage with her presence. But every character bring a certain Je ne sais quoi to the musical. Never mind fresh warm bread, this is a fresh warm musical.

Saiqa Chaudhari
The audience were treated to an impressive set, a beautiful village scene, constructed on different levels. Lighting during the show was very good as the action moved around the stage. Sections of the stage were lit whilst others were in darkness. This helped to keep the show moving smoothly. The only pauses throughout the whole show were when chorus had to move from the stage.

The story revolves around the arrival of a new baker and his young wife. She is unhappy with her Iife and when she is wooed by the young villager, Dominique, is persuaded to run away with him. The Baker is broken-hearted and refuses to make any more bread until she comes home. It is up to the villagers to find her. However, she realises that she really loves her husband and returns home.

The baker and his wife, played by Lindsay Farnworth and John Preston (Genevieve and Aimable), acted and sang extremely well. They complemented each other with lovely solos and duets. Darrel Smith (Dominique) was a joy to listen to with a great voice. Kathy Turton was in fine form as Antoinette, giving us a super fun character. I loved the hat!! Supporting leads of Mike Bailey and Jane Bickerstaffe were excellent as Claude and Denise playing the innkeeper and his wife. The rest of the cast played their parts very well, their solos and harmonies were top-class.

I had to watch the show on a second visit, as on the night I was there one of the main principals unfortunately took ill and was taken to hospital. With only 24 hours to replace him plaudits must go to Joe Conner and Mike Taylor. Joe played the part of the Marquis, and Mike the Butcher. They did carry librettos but they were well disguised, in fact my friend watching did not notice until nearly the end of the show. Congratulations to all the cast for a really good show. I know it must have been difficult for you. My best wishes to Don and many thanks for such a warm welcome.

Jackie Kay

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