Monday, October 22, 2012

Baby, the musical, Austin Theatre Project, October 12 - 28

Baby the Musical Austin Theatre Project

Austin Live Theatre review

No, it's not really about babies at all. Baby the musical is about anticipation, apprehension and the enormous changes that loom when a couple faces the prospect of having -- or not having -- a child. With their cheerily pulsating opening numbers Baby Baby Baby and I Want It All , David Shire and Richard Maltby suggest a merry adventure, but -- as in real life -- elation gives way to uncertainty in face of the enormity of life changes. After that sprightly opening this 1983 creation becomes far more intimate than your typical Broadway musical, coming closer to a chamber musicale or even a pocket opera.

Baby the Musical Austin Theatre Project
Joey Banks, Haley Montgomery (image: Pauline Forgeard-Grignon)

Three couples are neatly spread across the spectrum of ages. Perhaps a shade too neatly, but the leads are all fine singers and actors who quickly win our sympathy and bring the characters to life. Haley Montgomery is Lizzie the self-certain but entirely naïve undergraduate who's delighted to be pregnant and breezily uninterested in getting married to her live-in boyfriend Danny. Joey Banks in that role is caught between his own ambitions and his sense of responsibility.

Pam and Nick (Ryan Smith and Jim Lindsay), married for almost ten years, initially think that they've finally managed to conceive, only to learn that a nurse mixed up test results. Alan and Arlene (Kevin Oliver and Suzanne Orzech) have sent the last of three daughters off to college and anticipate empty nesting, only to find that those extra bottles of champagne at their twentieth anniversary celebration at the Plaza Hotel have yielded an unexpected consequence: Arlene is expecting.

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