Three couples that couldn’t have less in common suddenly find themselves in the same bassinette in Baby, now playing at the Jerry Herman Ring Theater.
After a quick biology review, the show opens on a college campus at the start of a new semester, where we meet three couples: Danny (Danny Marr) and Lizzie (Lindsay Ryan) are two college juniors whose biggest fear is telling Danny’s mom he is switching his major; Alan (Santiago Murillo) and Arlene (Amy Anderson) have just watched their third daughter graduate from college; and finally, Nick (Joshua Henry) and Pam (Erica Dorfler) just want to start a family. Then, after a fateful trip to the doctor, all three women discover they’re going to have a baby. The show then follows the trials of the nine months that follow, from baby showers to fertility experts to telling Danny’s mom.
The chemistry between the three couples is appealing, as each pair performs with a sense of sincerity that was only matched by its vocal talent. In particular, Ryan in “The Story Goes On” and Henry in “At Night She Comes Home to Me” stand out. The cast also has the sharp humor of the show down perfectly, from discussions of “sex by the rules” to the heroic plight of sperm. The more dramatic moments of the second act seemed to be more disjointed, perhaps due to a lack of the transitions that served to intertwine the scenes of the first act. However, within the individual dramatic scenes, there was the same honesty that made all three so endearing in the first act.
Other little details also help to keep the show interesting. The ensemble cast should be applauded for its additions to the musical numbers, especially for the boy band dance number in “Fatherhood Blues.”
The musical accompaniment was solely two pianos, but it worked well with the music to give the show a very intimate feel. However, the cast’s vocal performances were overshadowed in some instances by persistent microphone glitches that continued throughout the show.
The minimal set–essentially a bed pushed around the circular stage-works well for the show, allowing scenes with the different couples to happen simultaneously without confusion. The scenes are also rotated to face the different sections of the audience, which creates a sense of movement that makes the show very engaging.
While Baby is full of unexpected turns, audiences can be sure that it isn’t a false positive.
Baby will be playing at the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 19, Wednesday, Feb. 23, and Friday, Feb. 25, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26. Tickets for UM students with a ‘Cane card are $8 for weeknights and matinees and $10 for Friday and Saturday nights. The box office is open Monday to Friday from noon to 5 p.m. and two hours before each performance. Group rates are available.
Elaine Ayo can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.