The Baker's Wife Begins Performances at Paper Mill Playhouse April 13

News   The Baker's Wife Begins Performances at Paper Mill Playhouse April 13 Tony-nominated Side Show actress Alice Ripley stars in the title role of Stephen Schwartz's The Baker's Wife, which begins previews April 13 at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse.

Alice Ripley
Alice Ripley

Ripley co-stars with Max von Essen (Dominique) and Lenny Wolpe (the baker Amiable) in the musical, which officially opens April 17. The company also features Gay Marshall as Denise and Richard Pruitt as Claude. The ensemble comprises Jacque Carnahan, Jacqueline Colmer, Cynthia Darlow, Kevin Del Aquila, Barry Finkle, Joy Franz, Mitchell Greenberg, Jamie La Verdiere, Michael Mederios, Mary Mossberg, John O’Creagh, Julia Osborne and Clinton Zugle.

The Baker's Wife — with a score by Schwartz and a book by Joseph Stein — is based on the Marcel Pagnol-Jean Giono film "La Femme du Boulanger." The limited engagement, featuring direction by Gordon Greenberg and choreography by Christopher Gattelli, will play through May 15.

The Baker’s Wife, according to production notes, "is a wry musical comedy about jealousy, lust, revenge and forgiveness. A new baker arrives in a rural French village just in time to ease the pains of the contentious villagers, who have been without bread for weeks. All is well and everyone’s spirits are rising until the baker is driven to distraction and the villagers suffer the fate of breadlessness once again. To avoid yet more chaos, the villagers quickly join forces in order to bring harmony to their quaint town."

The musical features such tunes as "Gifts of Love," "Proud Lady" and the cabaret staple "Meadowlark." The original ill-fated Broadway-bound production, that never quite made it to Broadway, starred Tony and Olivier Award winner Patti LuPone and Paul Sorvino.

In "The Schwartz Scene," an e-mail newsletter to Stephen Schwartz fans, the Tony-nominated composer writes, "Joe Stein and I have also done a little further sprucing up of The Baker's Wife. . . Basically, we were very happy with the version done a couple of seasons ago at Goodspeed, but we felt we could still improve the writing of the relationship between the characters of Genevieve and Dominique. So Joe did some scene revisions, and I wrote some new lyrics (yet again) for 'Proud Lady.'" Alice Ripley has appeared on Broadway in Side Show,The Rocky Horror Show, James Joyce's The Dead, Sunset Boulevard, The Who's Tommy, Les Misérables and in the City Center Encores! production of Li'l Abner. She has recently been seen in Ken Ludwig's Shakespeare in Hollywood, The Fabulous Invalid and Off-Broadway in Five Flights. Ripley's non-show recordings include two discs with Side Show co-star Emily Skinner — "Duets" and "Unsuspecting Hearts" — and a recording of her own compositions, "Everything's Fine." The singer-actress also heads her own rock band, RIPLEY.

Max von Essen recently appeared Off-Broadway in Finian's Rainbow and in the York Theatre's all-star benefit concert of Children of Eden. On Broadway the actor has been seen in Dance of the Vampires, Jesus Christ Superstar and Les Misérables; his Off-Broadway credits include The Fantasticks and John & Paul. Von Essen's regional credits are numerous and include Dorian the Musical, My Fair Lady, Hair, Blood Brothers and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Lenny Wolpe appeared on Broadway in Onward Victoria, Copperfield, Mayor, Into the Light and the recent revival of The Sound of Music. He played Herbie opposite Betty Buckley's Rose in the Paper Mill production of Gypsy, and recently returned to the Paper Mill as the Allergist in The Tale of the Allergist's Wife. Wolpe's television credits include "Six Feet Under," "Ally McBeal," "King of Queens" and "Strong Medicine."

Tickets, priced $31-$68, are available by calling (973) 376-4343. The Paper Mill Playhouse is located on Brookside Drive in Millburn, NJ. Visit www.papermill.org for more information.