A couple of years ago, a baker named Scott Cunningham was ordered to stop selling cupcakes on the streets of Provincetown--even though the town had given him a permit to do so. Cunningham’s story made the local news, but it also inspired composer Michael Wartofsky and lyricist David Reiffel to create a musical play. When the two men shared their idea with writer Bradley Seeman, the project took shape almost overnight: Seeman wrote a book for the musical in a three-day burst.
The result, "Cupcake," shifts the action to a fictional seaside setting called Summertown, where tourists and locals alike crave the sweet treats baked by Tom (Grant MacDermott), a food-obsessed culinary artist. Tom is so single-minded about his craft that neither the Lifeguard (Max Sangerman) nor the Librarian (Hallie Brevetti) can quite figure out whether he’s into guys or girls. This is a matter of some importance, because they both have raging crushes on Tom.
The one individual in town who doesn’t seem to love Tom, and his baking, is Officer Stone (Mark Linehan). Like Tom, Officer Stone is completely absorbed in his work; his dogged tenacity drives Officer Stone to seek any and all means, including trickery, to nab Tom and send him to the Big House. Think of this as a light-hearted Cake Boss vs. Javert from "Les Miz," all set to frothy pop tunes, and you kind of get the idea.
Karen MacDonald rounds out the cast in a number of roles, playing a Real Estate Agent, Judge Judy, and a lesbian Tourist. The entire ensemble have fun with this play, but MacDonald joins into its fast-paced fizz with singular glee. Meantime, Sangerman is adorable as the perpetually shirtless Lifeguard; Lineman’s obsessed cop is a hoot, particularly when he goes undercover in drag to entrap Tom; Brevetti smolders as the sweet, but also spicy, librarian; and MacDermott brings a sweet goofiness to Tom that is, as one of the show’s tunes has it, the "Icing on the Cake."
If the characters are all about larger than life effervescence, the songs they sing are just as much fun. "I’ve Got A Crush" is a comic and tender paean, "A Short, Short Season" a philosophical treatise in miniature, and while "It Tasted Like..." epitomizes the play’s sugary but self-mocking tone, it’s also got an earnest undercurrent that makes you smile.
The play’s shoestring production makes imaginative use of limited resources under the guiding hand of director Guy Ben-Aharon, and the script lets fly with some crackling zingers. Like the delicacies dished up by its main character, "Cupcake" is a sweet treat. Don’t be surprised if you walk out of Club Café, where the play runs through June 24, humming its summery tunes.
"Cupcake" continues through June 24 at Club Cafe.