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Q&A: West End Stars To Bake Off For Charity

First Published 14 July 2016, Last Updated 19 July 2016

Think you know a state-of-the-tart treat when you see one? Well, you ain’t seen muffin yet. On your (gas) marks, pre-heat…. and BAKE!

This Saturday sees the arrival of the West End Bake Off 2016, where productions from across Theatreland will don their aprons to support a number of incredible causes under umbrella organisation Acting For Others.

Opening at 10:30 in St Anne’s Church Courtyard, a scone’s throw away from Shaftesbury Avenue, and judged by West End icons Michael Ball, Barbara Windsor and Christopher Biggins, the free-to-attend event will announce its winners at 11:00.

The baked goods, along with plenty of unique show merchandise including exclusive signed programmers and posters, will then go on sale to the general public, so if you’re looking to grab some sweet treats or unique memorabilia, or to meet your favourite on-stage stars, you’ll knead to be there on the day.

To see how the stars’ preparations are faring, we caught up with members of two of the teams hoping to take this year’s icing crown: the quietly confident cast of spectacular musical Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, and a nervous but excited Dave Hearn from the hilarious The Comedy About A Bank Robbery.

And in the mysterious spirit of the top-tier title-holders The Mousetrap, we were joined by a lady known only as the self-proclaimed ‘Chair of the Cake Committee’, ‘Mrs Boyle’.

How are you feeling ahead of Saturday’s West End Bake Off?

Kraig Thornber (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory): I’m really excited to be doing the Bake Off again this year. Last year was such a wonderful day, re-uniting with lots of old chums from other shows and enjoying a bit of friendly competition…. and let’s not forget the enormous amount of gorgeous cakes that I managed to ram down my gullet!

Sam Lathwood (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory): So excited! We participated last year and had the best time. It’s also great to see what other West End shows bring to the table, to raise money and awareness for a great charity.

Dave Hearn (The Comedy About A Bank Robbery): Very excited!

Mrs Boyle (The Mousetrap): Confident… of course!

How do you think your team are shaping up?

Rebecca Hodge (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory): Well, we do work in a chocolate factory – so I’d say we are ready!

Johnathan Tweedie (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory): The Oompas are already overweight. Soon we will be rolling them out like Violet from all the testing!

Dave Hearn (The Comedy About A Bank Robbery): A few of us are keen bakers so hopefully there will be some stiff competition, however I am neither a keen nor strong baker so I just hope I don’t poison anyone!

Mrs Boyle (The Mousetrap): We have been cut off in Monkswell Manor since Christmas… so we’ve had lots of practice!

Can you give us a flavour of the cake that your team will bring to the table?

Kraig Thornber (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory): We’ve been experimenting with some exciting new flavours this year: bratwurst and blueberry bon-bons, mackerel and marmalade muffins, and, my personal favourite, pork and pistachio parfait!

Sam Lathwood (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory): I think there is a big clue in the title of our ‘choctastic’ show!

Dave Hearn (The Comedy About A Bank Robbery):  I hear there is a Lemon Drizzle and potentially a themed cake!?

Mrs Boyle (The Mousetrap): Snow!

Do you have a secret ingredient and, if so, can you give us a hint as to what it might be?

Johnathan Tweedie (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory): If I told you that, I’d have to feed you to the squirrels!

Helen Colby (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory): Let’s just say, the Oompas have been working on our secret ingredient for some time!

Dave Hearn (The Comedy About A Bank Robbery): Most of the cakes will be improvised, possibly on the day. So… surprise, that’s the secret.

Mrs Boyle (The Mousetrap): That is for us to know, and for you to taste.

Who’s Chief Baker in your team’s kitchen?

Sam Lathwood (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory): The Oompa Loompas of course! I’ve heard that Charlie’s grandparents have had their aprons on this week too.

Rebecca Hodge (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory): Mrs Gloop! She loves baking strudel and pretzel pie.

Dave Hearn (The Comedy About A Bank Robbery): Company manager Elaine; she has made cakes for everyone’s birthday so far and they are amazing!

Mrs Boyle (The Mousetrap): Who do you think?! Mrs Boyle!

And Chief Taste Tester?

Kraig Thornber (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory): ME!

Johnathan Tweedie (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory): Grandpa Joe, of course.

Dave Hearn (The Comedy About A Bank Robbery): Me… definitely me.

Mrs Boyle (The Mousetrap): The mice are having a good time.

Who’ll be coming along on the day?

Sam Lathwood (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory): Definitely some Oompa Loompas and some of the lovely grandparents will be at the stall – but the majority of the cast tend to come along to taste some treats.

Johnathan Tweedie (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory): As many as possible – lots of sugar before a two-show day!

Dave Hearn (The Comedy About A Bank Robbery): Hoping the whole crew can make it, but there might not be enough room for us all!

Mrs Boyle (The Mousetrap): A fine ensemble.

Which other show do you think might provide the stiffest competition?

Helen Colby (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory): We’ve heard about The Mousetrap and their cupcakes, but we are all over this. We’ve got a chocolate factory, for heaven’s sake!

Kraig Thornber (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory): Well the folk at The Mousetrap better watch out! We were robbed last year, and we’re determined to lift the trophy this year. Bring it on!

Dave Hearn (The Comedy About A Bank Robbery): Hmmmm… I don’t know why, but I get the feeling Charlie And The Chocolate Factory have a distinct advantage?

Mrs Boyle (The Mousetrap): Competition? Don’t be ridiculous!

The other teams up for the bite are Disney’s Aladdin, The Book Of Mormon, Guys And Dolls, Disney’s The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, Les Misérables, The Play That Goes Wrong, The Railway Children, Savage, The Secret Garden, Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, Stig Of The Dump, Thriller Live, Titanic and Wicked.

Acting For Others is an umbrella organisation that represents 15 UK theatrical charities, using the funds it raises to offer emotional and financial support to members of the entertainment industry who have fallen on hard times through illness, injury or circumstance.

Promising a tasty battle, the West End Bake Off 2016 will reveal which teams will rise to become 2016’s cream of the crop, and which teams will, as the theatrical icon William Shakespeare might put it, “exeunt… pursued by éclairs.”

The West End Bake Off 2016 opens its doors at 10:30 on Saturday 16 July at St Anne’s Church Courtyard, Soho.

Those unable to attend the event, but still looking to donate towards Acting For Others, can do so at the charity’s Just Giving page here.

For a preview of The Mousetrap’s bid to retain their crown, see their video below:


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