Saturday, June 5, 2010

Group Rep's Having a Baby, Baby, Baby

Robert Allen and Emily Thompson

Having a baby is one of the biggest game changers a couple can experience. Planned or unplanned, they are now creating a new future together; a world of their own in which they will examine their hopes, fears, dreams and regrets as they draw their lives from a new drawing board.

The Group Rep and director Cate Caplin have taken on the task of examining this world of all things “baby” in their current musical, Maltby & Shire's BABY. Three couples sort out the pieces of their relationships as each learns they are about to welcome a new arrival.

Lizzie and Danny (Emily Thompson and Robert Allen) are in college. Lizzie is unsure they are ready for a baby and agonizes over the successful career she had planned in her mind and her love for Danny, a struggling musician. Danny, determined to marry Lizzie, takes a job in a band for the summer to prepare for the baby and each experiences a journey that may or may not keep them together by the end of the summer.

Pam and Nick (Dana Abrams and Steve Rizzo) have had difficulty conceiving and begin the show ecstatic that they are finally about to be parents. As happens all too often however, disappointing news is on the way and they must overcome a number of obstacles with no guaranteed outcome.

Arlene and Alan (Luise Heath and Lloyd Pedersen) find they are once again pregnant in their 40s, a scenario that causes them to reflect on the life they have built. Arlene wonders if the glue that has kept them together over the years might not be their love for each other, but their children who are now grown and out of the house, bringing them to the question – should they stay together now simply because of another baby?

One of the most delightful elements of BABY is Cate Caplin’s staging. By combining realistic movement, stylized choreographed moments and engaging dance segments like “Fatherhood Blues,” she has woven the journeys of the three couples together quite beautifully, enhancing the action with ensemble members Klair Bybee, Tonilyn Hornung, Beckett Arnold, Lareen Faye, Michael Cassano and Jeremy M. Sage.

Pedersen is charming as Alan, playing the role with equal parts sincerity, sweetness and humor. Here is a man who loves his wife and would do anything to make her happy, even as she changes her mind over and over again.

But this show belongs to young leading lady Emily Thompson as Lizzie who lights up the stage whenever she appears. Possessing a beautiful voice and poise beyond her years, she is the centerpiece of the musical, delivering a moving Act I finale of “The Story Goes On” that brings down the house. Yes, Thompson will definitely be one to watch as her stage career develops.

Musical direction for BABY is by Jeffrey Rockwell. Chris Winfield’s multi-functional set provides a myriad of locations with lighting by Rachel Jaime Miller, costumes by Maro K. Parian, sound by Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski and props by Lauren Cocca.

BABY runs through July 11, 2010 at the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood 91601. For tickets and more information go to or call 818-700-4878.

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