Mariel Saavedra (foreground) with Sunnie Eraso (left) and Nick Joe in “Baked! The Musical” at Theo. Credit: Time Stops Photography

Theo, the Evanston theater formerly known as Theo Ubique, has staged some of my favorite productions.

Currently, the theater is participating in the development of Baked! The Musical. “In development” means a production is a work in progress, and that is Baked!, a work in progress. I support these efforts. At the same time, I recognize there’s work to do.

The storyline is clear: An ethnic Chinese high school student, whose parents own a Chinese bakery, gets into Harvard and finds out Harvard doesn’t give her money and she can’t finance the admission. She resorts to using her baking experience to produce marijuana edibles (illegal at the time): Chinese buns filled with pot custard.

But the script needs some attention. It seems too formal.

Also, it isn’t so easy to accept the premise that Harvard would not pay for a student it has accepted, but since that is the dramatic use of the situation, for theatrical purposes, it’s useful.

Also, now that edibles are legal in so many places, the idea that her actions were illegal doesn’t work as well as it might have a few years ago. A time frame needs to be clearly set.

Five lead characters do their best with the material they have.

Sunnie Eraso is Jane, the Harvard-accepted high school senior who resorts to converting her parents’ bakery into an edible factory with a Chinese influence.

Sunnie Eraso (left) and Devon Hayakawa cook up something in “Baked! The Musical” at Theo. Credit: Time Stops Photography

Devon Hayakawa (Kasey) is the best friend who supports all efforts for Jane to raise money by whatever means.

Yunzhou (Mariel Saavedra) and Mingli (Nick Joe) mother and father, are sympathetic characters who are trying their best to support their daughter and keep their Chinese bakery in business.

Z (Reilly Oh) is the drug-dealing dropout who partners with Jane in her new business. He is charming as Oh plays him.

Devon Hayakawa (from left), Reilly Oh and Sunnie Eraso join hands in a scene from “Baked! The Musical.” Credit: Time Stops Photography

Although these five characters have good voices, they rarely sing together. When they do, the performances are wonderful.

One strong piece in the show is Know You the Most, a performance by the mother, father and daughter. Another is Get Baked, with lead characters and the full ensemble.

Not as good are the many solos with lyrics that tell too literal of a story.

The company of “Baked! The Musical” at Theo, which continues through Oct. 8. Credit: Time Stops Photography

The cast is large for present-day productions, five lead characters and five in the ensemble. Yet most often only one or two people are on stage at the same time, so there is little choreography. This musical begs for more staged physical movement – of course dance, but also movement between characters. So many young, talented performers need to have the opportunity to deliver with more gusto.

People going to Baked! should feel good about supporting a work in progress. And that is what they should expect – a work in progress.

Baked! The Musical continues through Oct. 8 at Theo, 721 Howard St. For tickets and information, visit or call 773-939-4101.

Cissy Lacks is a writer, photographer and retired teacher who writes theater reviews for the Evanston RoundTable. Bio information is at She can be reached at

Leave a comment

The RoundTable will try to post comments within a few hours, but there may be a longer delay at times. Comments containing mean-spirited, libelous or ad hominem attacks will not be posted. Your full name and email is required. We do not post anonymous comments. Your e-mail will not be posted.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *