Baby

Baby is Malty & Shire’s 1983 musical set on a college campus following nine months of three different couples attempting to have a child. Danny and Lizzie are music students and starting out their life together full of enthusiasm but trepidation about their first kid; sports coaches Nick and Pam want to have a baby but can’t conceive because of Nick’s low sperm count; and the Dean of the college Alan and his wife Arlene already have three grown children and are unsure whether another child is a good idea. These three situations provide the hook for the various episodes of pregnancy, and the story is played out as each musical number jumps through the timeline.Musically, Maltby & Shire’s score reveals its pedigree in their earlier revue, Starting Here, Starting Now. It’s sprightly and upbeat for the most part, and although it’s hardly the best musical ever written, it finds fans for the endearing stories of relationships at its heart. The problem with this production though is we never really feel connected to the characters to care too much about their problems and issues. The small cast of six try their best to belt through it, but their acting really isn’t strong enough to convince you they are in love or concerned about their pregnancy. There’s an awful lot of gurning facial expressions, hand gestures to emphasise lines and staring over the heads of the audience into the middle distance. The secondary parts also seem to turn into grotesque characterisations in an over-compensating attempt to delineate one role from another. The singing wasn’t always pleasant either, especially in the upper register where it tended to get a bit Madeline Kahn. There’s a live five-piece band for accompaniment, which is great, but the vocal power isn’t always enough to be heard over it. There was some signs of promise from Daniel Garsin playing the young father-to-be, Danny. Possibly the best actor on the stage, he delivered his solo beautifully in a rare highlight for this production. It’s a shame that I didn’t like it. I so wanted to, because this Cambridge group have brought so many of my festival favourites before. Perhaps I was just unlucky and caught it on a bad night. But this performance clearly didn’t hold the attention of the rest of the audience either. There was much texting on mobile phones going on during the show by about mid way through. Still, it did provide some handy light for me to write my notes by. Every cloud…

Reviews by Pete Shaw

Assembly George Square Studios

The House

★★★★★
theSpace on the Mile

Grace Notes

★★★
Greenwich Theatre

The Jungle Book

★★★
Greenwich Theatre

A Midsummer Night's Dream

★★★★
Multiple Venues

A Spoonful Of Sherman

★★★★★
Pleasance Theatre

Assassins

★★★★

The Blurb

Is there anything more exhilarating and downright terrifying than approaching parenthood? Boasting Maltby and Shire's superb pop and jazz-influenced score, the Tony Award-nominated 'Baby' undergoes an hilarious yet touching revival by Cambridge University's finest theatrical talent. www.babythemusical.co.uk