"Baby: The Musical" focuses on three couples struggling with the news that they are each expecting a child.
The youngest of the couples, Danny and Lizzie, are still in college and have just moved in together. They both want the baby, but are have different ideas about marriage. Another is Pam, a former tomboy, and her jokester husband Nick, a college coach, forced to deal with the disappointments and shifting blame associated with years of failing to conceive. The eldest couple, Arlene and Alan, have just recently had the last of their three daughters move out. After discovering Arlene is pregnant, Alan is reinvigorated by a parental sense of purpose, while Arlene isn't so sure she wants to give up another 18 years to raising a child.
In its attempt to take on the topics of love, relationships and childbirth, "Baby" offers up a lot of superficial and played-out portrayals of these subjects, only occasionally achieving some kind of emotional truth.
Part of the problem is that the story focuses too much on Lizzie and Danny, the least interesting of the three couples, while the most compelling emotional beats belong to the others, especially Pam and Nick, played by Mackenzie Warren and Aaron Umsted. Those two have genuine chemistry onstage, really selling the range of their interactions "? from flirtation to frustration. Heather Hurst also turns in a commendable performance, convincingly bringing to life the reserved and conflicted Arlene, a woman twice her age.
The music is not particularly memorable, but a few numbers, like "Fatherhood Blues" and "The Ladies Singing Their Song," stand out with the help of some amusing lyrics and entertaining choreography. Costume designer Pam Workman and her crew made some delightful choices in decking out the company players in examples of some of the biggest fashion faux pas of the 1980s. The staging, lighting, music performance and sets were all competently executed.
If you're a parent, or about to become one, "Baby" is going to have a lot more appeal than it will for a single person with no children. It cleverly makes up for a lack of depth by asking the audience to reflect on their own experiences as parents, tapping into potentially powerful emotions.
While not a great musical, OU's production of "Baby" is fairly well-executed and manages to be entertaining at times while addressing issues that will be of concern to new parents in any generation.