Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
The scene is North Carolina, and Jen is returning to her hometown after a long absence. She visits her mother's close friend Della who operates a sweets shop and has been chosen as a contestant on a nationally televised baking show. Jen wants Della to make a cake for her upcoming nuptials, but when Della becomes aware that Jen is marrying another woman, she finds herself unable to do so, despite having a deep love for Jen and her family, due to a conflict with her religious beliefs.
Ms. Brunstetter does an admirable job drawing characters with honest emotions and even if the ending seems a bit of a sell out, the audience gets a chance to step away from raw politics to examine the human side. Although I am unable to let go of very raw emotions regarding the actual case to completely enjoy the play, I think most people will be able to go where the play wants to take them.
The Asolo Rep production is blessed with a warm, engaging performance by Cindy Gold as Della. The baker's painful conflict between her long history with Jen's family and what she believes is right is fully believable. Amanda Fallon Smith is down homey as Jen, naturally presenting a woman who has known Della almost all her life. DeAnna Wright is northern cold as Macy, the other bride, perfect as the role is written. Paul Romero completes the cast as Tim, Della's husband and the announcer.
The production is lovingly directed by Lavina Jadhwani, who strongly directed last year's Roe. All of the action takes place on a lavish set designed by Collette Pollard, with costumes by Melissa Ng that perfectly help define the characters wearing them. As always, Michelle Hart work with hair, wig and make-up is a huge plus.
If there is ever going to be a break in the hostility between religion and the LGBT community, The Cake is likely to be a help in finding understanding. Asolo Repertory Theatre's production is superbly realized.
The Cake, through April 28, 2019, at the Asolo Repertory Theatre Cook Theatre in the FSU Center, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota FL. For tickets and information, call the box office at 941-351-8000 or visit www.asolorep.org.
Cast (in order of appearance):
Jen: Amanda Fallon Smith*