Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary on the making of Great British Bake Off: The Musical

Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary

Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary - Credit: jakebrunger.co.uk

Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary, the creative forces behind Great British Bake Off: The Musical – which has its world premiere at Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre – talk baking puns and the business of pleasing Paul and Prue 

Whose idea was it to create a musical of Great British Bake Off?  

We were approached about writing the show by local Cheltenham producer Mark Goucher and acclaimed West End theatre director Rachel Kavanaugh. They were looking to create a musical theatre adaptation of the Great British Bake Off and were looking for the right writers to bring the show to life. Mark and Rachel asked us if we had an idea that could work on stage, so we went away and brainstormed various characters, songs and scenarios that might make a juicy musical. We knew straight away that Bake Off had all the perfect ingredients to make a feel-good night of entertainment musical.  

What can audiences expect? 

We like to think of the show as the ‘unaired series’ of Bake Off – you follow a group of contestants, presenters and judges over the course of a whole series but, unlike the TV show, you also get to know them off-camera as well. Everyone has their reasons for why they bake; be it for their grandchildren or children, for work colleagues or school friends, or as a more therapeutic personal outlet, which the musical taps into quite poignantly. It really will make you laugh and cry in equal measure – when we did the first presentation of the show to the creator of Bake Off during the pandemic, he had tears rolling into his facemask! 

Why has The Everyman been chosen for the world premiere? 

The Everyman Theatre is one of the country’s leading regional entertainment hubs and also an up-and-coming production house for its own musicals too. Mark Goucher, who runs the venue, is the producer behind smash-hit shows like  Hairspray, so we knew we were in good hands. Plus, it has the most wonderful audiences who enjoy musical theatre – everyone is coming for a good night out, which is what we want to give them with the Great British Bake Off musical. It really is the most perfect venue to host the world premiere. 

Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary

Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary - Credit: jakebrunger.co.uk

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What challenges came with adapting the show for the stage?  

Unlike when we adapted Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole into a stage musical a few years ago – which already had characters and a story – all we had with Bake Off was an empty tent! It was up to us to fill that tent with loveable bakers, a story filled with ups and downs, as well as finding a satisfying way of doing the judges and presenters that didn’t mean we’d have to have the actual Paul and Prue on stage. That was definitely the hardest bit to crack, but we’re confident audiences will love what we’ve done! 

READ MORE: 22 things to do in the Cotswolds in July 2022.

Can we expect plenty of baking puns? 

It’s funny you should ask that because the puns have actually been one of the hardest things to write for the show! When you hear them on the TV show there’s always a bit of a ‘groan’ factor – literally, Paul will roll his eyes in despair – and we don’t want the audience to think it’s too much of a pantomime, either. We used to have a whole section about celebrity baking puns – Chouxdy Dench, Julian Eclairy and Emanuel Macaron – but that ended up on the cutting room floor I’m afraid! But fear not, there is definitely something in there for both the hardcore Bake Off fan (Alaskagate, anyone?) as well as the casual viewer who just tunes in to see the cakes. 

What do you think Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith would make of it? 

We really hope they like it! We’re incredibly nervous to see what they think of it, and, yes, our spies tell us that they are going to be sneaking in at some point to check it out. We’ve created a really warm and affectionate homage to them, and they’re played by two of the West End’s leading musical theatre actors John Owen Jones and Rosemary Ashe. Audiences will fall in love with them, we’re sure! 

Great British Bake Off: The Musical is at Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre from Friday July 22 until Saturday, August 6. everymantheatre.org.uk

READER OFFER: Get 2-4-1 tickets by using promo code COTSWOLDLIFE*

*Offer ends July 10, 2022. Valid on all performances up to the matinee performance on July 28, 2022.