“What a Journey, What a Ride!”
Villanova Theatre to Produce Buoyant Musical, Baby
Villanova Theatre invites audiences in out of the cold for the heartwarming musical Baby, with a book by Sybille Pearson, music by David Shire, and lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. Directed by Peter Reynolds, Baby will be onstage February 12-March 2, 2008. Villanova Theatre is located in Vasey Hall on the Villanova University campus. Performances will be held at 8:00pm on Tuesday – Saturday and at 2:00pm on Sundays and Saturdays (no Saturday matinee during the first week). Tickets cost $20-$24, with discounts for seniors, students, and groups, and may be ordered by calling the Villanova Theatre Box Office at (610) 519-7474.
With an affecting story and an infectious score, Baby follows three couples and their rollercoaster rides through the nine longest months in any family’s life. Arlene and Alan are in their 40s when an unexpected pregnancy upends their newly empty nest. Danny and Liz are college students who never dreamed they’d be parents so soon. Pam and Nick, in their 30s and hopelessly in love, get a lot of “practice” as they try for the same luck. Baby captures the joyful, stressful, thrilling experience of impending parenthood. As the cast sings in the opening number, “What a journey! What a ride!”
Reynolds, who directed last season’s The Robber Bridegroom for Villanova Theatre, explains his affection for Baby: “It’s difficult these days to find a good musical that’s not based on a movie. Baby is an original musical with a lot of heart. Its themes – love, readiness for parenthood, partnership – are universal, and deeply moving. Most of all, Baby has terrific music and a great book, and our cast can more than do it justice.” Reynolds points out that Villanova Theatre’s production marks the 25th Anniversary of Baby’s 1983 Broadway debut. He and the musical’s designers have had tremendous fun with the 1980s design of the show, which will feature neon colors, legwarmers, and popped collars. “I think anyone who grew up during that time will get a huge kick out of it,” says Reynolds.
Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire formed their musical partnership as students at Yale in the 1950s. Their musical version of Cyrano de Bergerac was produced by the Yale Dramatic Association in 1958, then mounted by the prestigious Williamstown Summer Theatre. Maltby and Shire worked throughout the 1960s on musicals and revues that played off-Broadway or in regional theater, or went unproduced. Their first Broadway credit came in 1968, when their song “The Girl of the Minute” was used in the revue New Faces of 1968. In 1977, at the behest of the Manhattan Theatre Club, Maltby directed a revue of songs he and Shire had written for a variety of projects. It opened off-Broadway as Starting Here, Starting Now, resulting in a cast album that earned a Grammy nomination. Maltby and Shire, in collaboration with book-writer Sybille Pearson, finally reached Broadway with their own musical with Baby, directed by Maltby, which opened in 1983. They returned to off-Broadway with the musical revues Urban Blight and Closer Than Ever. Their second Broadway musical was Big, an adaptation of the successful film, which opened in 1996.
Director Peter Reynolds currently serves as the Director of Musical Theater for the Department of Theater at Temple University and Artistic Director of Mauckingbird Theatre Company, which recently produced Moliere’s The Misanthrope. For Temple Theaters he has directed productions of Into the Woods, Ragtime, Company, Pericles, Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery and Beautiful Thing. He also had the pleasure of spending last year teaching and directing at Villanova University. He has directed for the Philadelphia Theatre Company in their collaborations with Philadelphia Young Playwrights and spent two seasons with the Lenape Regional Performing Arts Center in New Jersey where he assisted the Producing Artistic Director. Reynolds hails from the Midwest and for six years was Artistic Director of HealthWorks Theatre-Chicago, winner of the 2000 Award of Excellence in Prevention Education (presented by Mayor Daley and the Chicago Dept. of Public Health) as well as the 2001 Hall of Fame After Dark Award. Regionally he has worked at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, HotCity Theatre-St. Louis, Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre, Chicago Dramatists, Theatre Building Chicago, Apollo Theatre-Chicago, City of Maples Repertory, Face to Face Productions, Lillian Russell Theatre, and on the stages of the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign and Southern Illinois University.
Baby runs February 12 – March 2, 2008. Show times are 8:00pm Tuesday – Saturday and 2:00pm Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $20-$24 and may be ordered by calling the Villanova Theatre Box Office at (610) 519-7474.
Student Talk-back: Tuesday, February 19
Audience members are invited to stay after the performance for a talk-back session with the cast. (Admission to this performance is free for all Villanova University students.)
Speaker’s Night: Thursday, February 21
Patrons are invited to attend a lively post-show discussion with the director, dramaturg, and guest speaker Sybille Pearson, who wrote the book for Baby.
Charles B. Illingworth IV as Nick and Rachel Anne Stephan as Pam. Credit: John Welsh