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The Cake

From 30 critic and 145 member reviews
Members say: Relevant, Funny, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

About the show

In MTC's new play, when a celebrated baker is asked to make a cake for a lesbian wedding, she is forced to re-examine her deeply held beliefs, as questions of morals, judgment, and family swirl around. More…

All is going well for Della (Debra Jo Rupp, “That 70s Show”, “This Is Us”). Her North Carolina bakery is legendary and she’s just been cast on her favorite television baking competition. But then, her late-best-friend’s daughter comes home from New York City to ask her to make a cake for her upcoming wedding to a woman. Written by Bekah Brunstetter ("This is Us.")

Front Row Center

"A tasty treat that’s not just empty calories...Food for the soul, full of filling ingredients that will make you think and feel, as well as satisfy your sweet tooth with plenty of laughter...The brilliance of Brunstetter’s 'The Cake' is that it takes on some very weighty social and personal issues head-on with sensitivity, honesty and humor. It neither vilifies or deifies anyone’s point of view, rather it humanizes everyone...'The Cake' wouldn’t work without the superb Debra Jo Rupp." Full Review


"Beautifully staged and more relevant as ever...The result is an entertaining and compassionate exploration of four people on opposing side of the what to believe in spectrum...A dramatically satisfying, intensely emotional 90-minute play...'The Cake' manages to touch our hearts even as it tickles our funny bones...If anyone can make a character most New York theatergoers would tag as a bigot delightful company, it's Brunstetter her creator and Rupp her dynamite interpreter." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Della is the show's fulcrum and Rupp makes a three-course meal of this rich character, beautifully employing her trademark earthiness and peerless comic timing. Even her imagined conversations with the baking show's sharp-tongued chief judge - earn guffaws. But Ruff isn't just playing for laughs. When Della says things that could make us hate her, Ruff does nothing to soft-pedal these statements; yet, we also see the pain these words cause her as well as those who hear it." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"The issue is dealt with in terms of relations between the characters involved, not as a political drama, and that gives it a fresh take...The baker is Della, played by Debra Jo Rupp in a luminous performance that is entertaining and ultimately emotionally critical to the plot and relationships...The play’s resolution makes for more potent drama and perspective than a rehash of the real-life legal battles might have been." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"A hoot, and also a full, satisfying meal that clings to the ribs well after its hour and a half...Beneath the straightforward narrative, and along with Brunstetter's many comic lines and characters changing the subject when the subject becomes too uncomfortable, is a smart exploration of why, even in a land where so many of us watch the same TV shows and post on the same blogs and social media, we're so radically disunited...'The Cake' is delicious." Full Review

Diandra Reviews it All

"One of the freshest approaches to the daily injustices the LGBTQ must face...It is brisk in writing and direction...Jo Rupp’s performance reveals new layers to the ignorance and hate tethered to those that refuse to treat the LGBTQ community as equals...Though 'The Cake' is witty as hell, throwing in punch-lines and one-liners that sprinkle with random, colorful humor, it really is a tragedy...Both Angelson and Jo Rupp give endearing performances." Full Review


"Brunstetter succeeds in creating compellingly real characters by exposing these contradictions...Rupp gives a fleshy, vulnerable, and deeply sympathetic performance as the Christian baker. On top of that, she's really funny, with near-perfect comic timing...Meadow supports these four excellent performances with a well-paced and handsomely designed production....If I can fault 'The Cake' for anything, it's an almost too-optimistic ending." Full Review


"The conflict between seeing multiple sides of an issue and the insistence that there is only one correct side is the power that fuels Bekah Brunstetter's sweet and provocative multi-layered comedy/drama...An endearing and frequently moving production...If there seems to be a missing ingredient in 'The Cake,' it's because the situation appears to only be about the civil rights issue of purchasing a cake with no mention of the First Amendment." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"'The Cake', which initially seems a goofy confection, turns out to be a thoughtful examination of changing cultural mores...Rupp brings charm, daffiness, and heart to her character. And it’s refreshing to see a culture-war depiction that presents all its combatants as good-hearted and struggling...But even with its flaws, this play works, on the strength of its sympathetic takes and Brunstetter’s sharp script. T'he Cake', as it turns out, is sweet." Full Review


"What makes her play truly stand out is the way it deftly and stealthily takes on important, topical social issues in the guise of warm, wholesome comedy...As Della, Debra Jo Rupp delivers a winning, deceptively layered performance that mirrors the qualities of the play itself...Even if the rest of the cast doesn’t balance the sweet-and-savory qualities of their respective characters quite as masterfully, they provide Rupp’s performance and Brunstetter’s play more than adequate support." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"The biggest surprise about 'The Cake' is how sweetly inoffensive it is...Brunstetter isn't particularly interested here in exploiting her topic's incendiary aspects...The play ultimately isn't very thought-provoking, but it's certainly entertaining...It's hard not to wish the playwright had explored the situation in greater depth or given her characters more nuance. But Brunstetter's crowd-pleasing instincts prove spot-on...Rupp's terrific performance is key to the evening's success." Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

"Those expecting a serious look at the legal ramifications of denying a wedding cake to a same sex couple won’t find it here...What we get instead is a sympathetic look at a Southern woman whose religious beliefs are out of sync with her loving personality...The ending seemed a bit facile. The production is greatly enhanced by an amazing set by John Lee Beatty...Lynne Meadow’s direction is seamless. The play is entertaining but doesn’t really have much depth." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"This one is played for laughs and a feel-good ending, which is a perfectly practical choice by the playwright but trivializes what hinted to be a provocative message...The play is produced with Manhattan Theatre Club’s typically high standards...Here, the comedy doesn’t exactly diminish the potential power of the drama; but it doesn’t enhance it either, which makes 'The Cake' interesting and entertaining enough. But the layers don’t quite rise as high as the recipe suggests." Full Review

Woman Around Town

"Della is a sympathetic character, in many ways realistic...We might cite playwright Bekah Brunstetter for lack of confrontation, but coming from Winston, Salem, she likely knows her people. Characters are believable in context. Though the piece goes down tasty and attractive, one less Bake-Off vision would serve...Debra Jo Rupp is in full control of Della, who’s warm, spunky, sad, and palpably challenged by the situation." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

“The important issues of equality and human rights become cute and dishearteningly charming, easy to brush off and forgotten...The topic has complexity and weight, and the playwright valiantly tries to present the conflict with humanity and heart...It succeeds, mostly, as a comedy of character...Brunstetter tries hard to find a balance that serves up understanding without selling out to the sugar high. She almost succeeds, but with the last mouthful, I didn’t feel satisfied." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“The tastiest thing by far in ‘The Cake’ is Rupp...Brunstetter has crafted a madly scatterbrained steel magnolia, and Rupp brings her fully to life...A comic sketch, no matter how delightful, does not a play make, however, and ‘The Cake’ is on less solid ground when it turns to other, more serious matters...Still, under Meadow's smooth direction, Rupp opens up to us every step of Della's journey to an appreciation of a world that is far more complicated than she ever imagined.” Full Review

New York Theater

"The playwright makes Della a sympathetic character...The actress makes her a delight, with great comic timing...Della feels like the only fully believable character in the play, with the other three characters primarily serving the mechanics of the plot...The cast does what it can to charm us into accepting the characters as credible...There are some lovely moments in the play. If it has too many artificial ingredients, still 'The Cake' is undeniably sweet." Full Review


"Bekah Brunstetter's 'The Cake' is an entertaining attempt to deal with religious discrimination in the workplace. While the play neither goes as far as it could, nor sticks to the initial problem, it does open up the issue in an appealing manner. With its hard-working foursome and a perfectly cast Debra Jo Rupp, best known for her Kitty Forman on That 70's Show, 'The Cake' is more than a comedy but less than a total success." Full Review

The New York Times

"One of those 'issue' plays that goes down easy and leaves you undernourished...Whenever the play allows Della’s contradictions to flower, it feels dramatic, raising usefully unanswerable questions...These are stories that burnish the audience’s progressive credentials without really testing them against formidable opposition...Della — like 'The Cake' itself, if you can get past its cloying elements — is nevertheless trying to grapple with something quite complex for a comedy." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Brunstetter's compassionate and nuanced depiction of Della, a woman some might dismiss as a bigot, is 'The Cake's' biggest treat, and Rupp is delectable in the role...If only the rest of the play were so multilayered...Brunstetter is a master at mixing punch lines and sight gags with insightful sentiment, but she stirs in some unnecessary plot twists. And despite the actors' best efforts, Macy and Della's husband, Tim, mostly come off as two-dimensional mouthpieces." Full Review

Stage Left

"A first class production directed with great wit and humanity...Rupp gives a fantastic, full dimensional performance...The frustrating problem with 'The Cake,' though, is that Della doesn’t change much at all, or at least not nearly enough...As a gay audience member, I felt oddly othered by this play—a comedy—which, I suppose, isn’t aimed at me...Brunstetter’s flat and argumentative writing of these lesbians, though no doubt well-intentioned, is unconvincing and inauthentic." Full Review


"It wraps a highly charged topic into a pleasant but sometimes gooey confection...The play’s most gripping moments come when Macy relates the experiences of her youth as a gay black woman...For the most part, though, Brunstetter’s writing has a soft-focus grace, with easy-to-take jokes and likable characters...In trying to give us both a thorny problem play and a feel-good entertainment, Brunstetter may be proving the old adage that you can’t have your cake and eat it, too." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"'The Cake' captures the tensions dividing our modern moment...Debra Jo Rupp plays a warm anti-hero. While her growth and confusion drive the piece, it’s often tough to agree with her, even though she's the protagonist...'The Cake' feels a bit like it's preaching to the choir, yet doing so in opposition to the main character. While simple in essence, Brunstetter’s writing presents an enigma of a woman who plainly exists in everyone’s daily lives, in our very country." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"More a good-natured, sit-com treatment of a serious situation than a dramatic take on the historic case that went to the Supreme Court…Some mild jokes about the different values of liberal Northerners and conservative Southerners provide icing, but the play's pursuit of laughter sometimes seems more urgent than anything much deeper…Rupp's pleasing presence as the conflicted baker-housewife provides what flavor this confection has." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"Too sweet for my palate in spite of its efforts to get to the underbelly of newsworthy headlines...Brunstetter is adept at punchy one-liners, but her deeper dive into the characters’ struggles with religion, race, and sexual orientation often feel overwrought rather than extensions of their life experiences. Even so, Rupp finds the humor and humility in the baker with existential questions about her faith...Given this choice between a squall or a sweet, I’d head into the superstorm." Full Review

Must see, Intelligent, Great acting, Clever, Absorbing

See it if A terrific script and acting ensemble addressing prejudice, bigotry, Christian fundamentalism,emotional conflict forgiveness and acceptance

Don't see it if Closed minded people not willing to accept differences

Great writing, Great staging, Relevant, Must see, Funny

See it if you want to see a play that begins with a most wonderful, engaging performance; if you like funny plans that have serious undertones

Don't see it if you are a religious fundamentalist; if you don't want to see a play involving a lesbian relationship

Entertaining, Delightful, Enchanting

See it if A charming character played,to perfection, a great supporting cast

Don't see it if You are at,all homophobic,but you're missing out on a delightful show

Sigh!, Must see, Sweet -- what cake isn't?, Heart-warming, It's about more than you think!

See it if you want to be surprised -- this is about much more than confection, and there are several stories being told here, all of which intrigue.

Don't see it if you don't want to open your heart a bit and feel genuine heartfelt emotion. Or if plays about the gay situation are not for you.

Also There was nothing I didn't like about this play, which was surprising ... Read more Read less

Resonant, Intelligent, Great writing, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if You enjoy topical thought provoking theatre. If you want to be challenged.

Don't see it if If you dont enjoy a good debate. If you can't deal with hearing and accepting differing opinions.

Also We all know the basic story by now and how its portrayed in the news. ... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great acting

See it if you feel that love between same sex people is wrong. This play may just change your mind.

Don't see it if you do not want to think about what the other side's argument is.

Also The play makes you laugh at a topic that really isn't funny. But by th... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Resonant, Relevant, Funny

See it if You enjoy off broadway’s more intimate setting. Debra Jo Rupp ( mom from That 70s Show) is so funny and a great actress. Good for all adults

Don't see it if If you don’t like a smaller theater with less flashy set. If you are uncomfortable with the subject matter.

Resonant, Relevant, Intelligent, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You like plays that help you see topics from other people’s point of view. No one is portrayed as the villain or the victim here.

Don't see it if You’re afraid to look at your own culpability in a recent news topic that most of us took a side in without knowing very many facts.

Also I found this show to be very eye opening. I appreciate a show that hel... Read more Read less

Refreshing, Funny, Delightful

See it if You want a play that shows both sides of a complex issue. Choosing this woman's point of view was spot on. Debra Jo Rupp was exquisite!

Don't see it if You refuse to watch a story told from a point of view that might conflict with your own. You want the playwright to provide an easy answer.

Also I think this play does a beautiful job of demonstrating how each of th... Read more Read less

Sensitive, Touching, Intelligent, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You love cake! You enjoy comedies that tackle serious issues. You can be open-minded to different viewpoints about sexuality and religion.

Don't see it if You're not interested in meeting characters who live in isolated and socially-conservative communities, that are politically different.

Fresh, Familiar, Sweet, Great acting

See it if no reason not to.

Don't see it if again, no reason not to.

Also the Cake is simultaneously by the numbers and subversive. Familiar, bu... Read more Read less

Profound, Great staging, Delightful, Cliched, Relevant

See it if I was just really excited to see Debra Jo Rupp and get a selfie, which I did, but, besides that, I was interested in the premise. As someone

Don't see it if On the LGBTQ+ spectrum, of course I'm biased on the whole wedding and cake debates that have occurred. I found it refreshing to see a play

Also Highlight that. There was a decent attempt at showcasing both sides of... Read more Read less

Relevant, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining, Delightful

See it if Smartly written and very funny; joyously getting to a more or less expected end; superb ensemble cast with wonderful chemistry

Don't see it if Largely predictable; while measured and equal in theory, playwright has an obvious viewpoint

Thought-provoking, Entertaining

See it if you want to see a fun, entertaining play that is also relevant and thought provoking. All sides of the argument are presented intelligently

Don't see it if your views are so strong that any point of view that differs upsets you...but if that is the case, this is a play that you really should see

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Profound, Relevant

See it if you think it is important that we face the issues of religion vs freedom in our society. and LOVE great acting

Don't see it if if you are uncomfortable with LGBTQ issues and how they conflict with those who are very religious

Resonant, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if if you want to see an intelligent, thoughtful play with good writing and acting.

Don't see it if you have no interest in issues like love, marriage, religion.

Great staging, Great acting, Disappointing, Enchanting, Absorbing

See it if you want a lighthearted look at homophobia.Despite ourselves we love the woman who refuses to bake the cake for a gay wedding.

Don't see it if you want a black&white solution to a rainbow issue.We end up admiring her for standing up for her principles even when it breaks her heart

Relevant, Great acting, Funny

See it if You have an interest in learning more about religious based objections to Gay marriage....and can appreciate a good laugh at the same time.

Don't see it if You will be offended by criticism of religious based opposition to gay marriage

Also While perhaps not an entry into the "serious theater" category, this t... Read more Read less

Somewhat predictable, Great acting, Charming, Clever, Funny

See it if Debra Jo Rupp is a charmer who gives a nuanced & often hilarious performance. Some writing is very funny, but might not work as well w/o her

Don't see it if Serious topic is presented in a light & fluffy way, so I wouldn't recommend if you want something HEAVY, like an Arthur Miller.

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great acting, Funny

See it if you want to see a very relevant play about the conflict of loving someone and your religious beliefs. There are some very funny moments also

Don't see it if you do not want to watch another relevant play that reminds you of the times that we are living in.

Excellent casting, A bit tiresome, Cute, Relevant, Cliched

See it if If you want to think about 'big' (Supreme Court) decisions on a human level. If you appreciate some campy touches. If you are open-minded.

Don't see it if if you can't appreciate a different point of view. Maybe if you don't like mashed potatoes...or a bit of being told how/what to think.

Also It is good of MTC to stage a less 1sided play on this sort of topic - ... Read more Read less

Relevant, Great staging, Funny, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if You’re interested in something topical, yet unexpected, funny yet poignant.

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with shows about lesbianism, interracial relationships or Southern fried narrow-mindedness.

Funny, Relevant, Clever

See it if you like theatre that addresses current issues while not being weighed down...raises questions in a funny, sympathetic way.

Don't see it if if you prefer comedy to be light, unprovocative. Wrestles with religion and LGBTQI issues....with a Southern twist.

Delightful, Entertaining, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy shows that are thought provoking. You see both sides and views of people who approve and disapprove of gay marriage.

Don't see it if if current things like gay marriage offend you.

Offbeat, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you want to see a play dealing with relevant issues, anchored by a delightful lead performance, & giving voice to conflicting viewpoints.

Don't see it if you aren't open to opinions contrary to your own.

Also This is play is worth seeing just for the opening monologue, which is ... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (11)