Fans of playwright Ken Ludwig expecting the usual madcap farce such as MOON OVER BUFFALO may be surprised by BE MY BABY, but chances are that they will also be delighted. Director Steve Allen and his talented cast and crew have created a unique theatrical experience.
The play, set in the 1960s, concerns a young couple, Gloria and Christy (Libby Ryan and Alex Rodriguez) in Scotland who, through a series of circumstances, wish to adopt a friend’s baby girl who is in the United States. Unable to travel themselves, they send two people whom they can trust: Gloria’s prim and proper Aunt Maud (Mary Simrin) and Christy’s older friend John Campbell (Bill Shaughnessy), a dour Scotsman. These two despise each other, but agree to take the trip. Along the way, they encounter a series of adventures, some pleasant and some not so pleasant, and a bevy of varied characters, from clergymen to nurses and waiters, all played by two people (Nicole Gross and Joe Zachowski). But the most important character is the baby herself. She is so adorable and winsome that she brings out the best in her escorts. You may be able to guess at some of the things that will happen, but there are some surprises too. Both funny and touching, but not maudlin, this play is a real charmer.
The cast is uniformly excellent. Ryan and Rodriguez are appealing as the young couple. Simrin and Shaughnessy are a joy to watch as the people whose icy or gruff exterior gradually melts. And not enough can be said about Gross and Zachowski and their gallery of portrayals. Special kudos to the amazing stage crew (which included the actors) under stage manager Grace Fair (amazing Grace?), who made the 27 set changes with speed and efficiency. Music of the period, including several Elvis Presley songs, is played during these set change and adds much to the atmosphere of the play.
Congratulations, director, cast, and crew! Or, as the Scots might say, SLAINTE!
BE MY BABY
by Ken Ludwig
Directed by Steve Allen
The Village Playbox
First Presbyterian Church
Seventh and Green Streets
Haddon Heights, NJ 08035