Not everyone will be familiar with Baby. Despite reasonable critical acclaim when it premiered on Broadway in 1983, it is rarely performed. The story centres around three couples – one young, unmarried college students; one happily married in the prime of their lives and one more mature with grown-up children – whose worlds are shaken up when the three women discover they are pregnant. Unfortunately the book by Sybille Pearson does not capitalise on this interesting premise and neither music by David Shire nor lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr can save what is ultimately just a song cycle. Cue rarely performed.
MKEC Productions have developed a deservedly excellent reputation over the past few years for bringing lesser known musicals to the Drayton Arms. This production, though, is not one of their best. Lacking any real sense of time or place, the direction wasn’t able to make clear enough sense of the already thin book. Frustratingly encumbered by a set made up of over-sized building blocks and the decision to only use one entrance and exit, the production dragged. Director Marc Kelly also failed to find much of the humour.
There were some strong performances, notably Danny Whelan as Danny Hooper and Barbara Jaeson as Arlene McNalley in her rendition of "Patterns" but overall there was not enough focus on the characters and the situation they found themselves in to engage the audience. I genuinely wanted to love this show. It's a musical comedy with a wonderful score but sadly the joy was missed and the direction just too pedestrian to breathe new life into the show.