Baby Book by Sybille Pearson, Lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. Music by David Shire
Directed by Roy Alan
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Starring Sage Starkey, Kathryn Nash, Heather Alexander, and Bryan Minyard
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park FL
It’s hard not to be in favor of motherhood: if it wasn’t from mom, where would you be right now? In this sometimes touching, sometimes hard-to-hear musical comedy three couples begin down the road to real adulthood and planning for someone else’s future. Lizzie (Nash) and Danny (Starkey) cohabitate in a dorm room and now something has slipped or someone miscounted and the countdown begins. Interestingly, she’s the one avoiding commitment; Danny is picking out china patterns and working how he’s going to pay for all this since he dropped “Science” to major in “Unemployability Studies.” Maybe punk rock drummer is a viable career, so he heads off to New Orleans and minor college radio fame. Across town Arlene (Alexander) and Alan (Minyard) are ready to down size after raising and shipping three kids, but an “Oops” baby looms and their shaky marriage turns into a fault line. Then there’s Pam (Natalie Cordone) and Nick (Shawn Kilgore): they want kids but she exercises to infertility while he shoots blanks so they try reading Herman Melville as foreplay. Maybe they should just give up and become the young childless couple that shows up at the theatre every weekend.
While the Maltby and Shire’s music can be a challenge, these are all real people in real crises and we are not in a typical heartwarming musical. Mr. Kilgore has the best voice; his duet “At Night She Comes Home To Me” with Mr. Starkly was particularly nice. Mr. Starkey began weak; he didn’t hit his full power until near the end of Act 1 with “I Chose Right.” The tension between Alan and Arleen was odd but it gave Ms. Alexander a rare dramatic role. I didn’t quite get why they were having marital problems other than they had lost focus when all their kids left but I did like how they summed it up with “And What If We Had Loved Like That”. Supporting the 6 singers were some great comic actors, Candace Neal, Tim Pappas and Kate Zaloumes all added to the chorus and ensemble numbers, and when not singing they became all those people you meet every day and then forget to write songs for. If this was a grand opera, they might be called spear carriers, but spear carriers with great pipes. The big issue with the show was a bad sound leak from next door. A competing cabaret at Master Class Academy had some shit kickin’ country tunes lined up with all the really quiet personal numbers, and while the show soldiered on I wanted to pound on the wall (as if that ever helps). There may be a time and place for country music, It just didn’t occur tonight.
For more information on Winter Park Playhouse, please visit http://www.winterparkplayhouse.org