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MTG's voices and staging shine in Baby


Musical Theater Guild

Directed by Dared Wright.

La Sala de Puerto Rico.

Feb. 3, 4, and 5.

Starring Richard Damaso '95, Kristin Tanzer '94, Derek Clark '90, Jennifer Lynn Gasser,

Carson Schutze G, and Jessica Phillips '94.

By Robert Marcato

While watching this show, the MIT Musical Theater Guild's IAP production of "Baby," I tried to remind myself frequently of certain realities. I knew that I shouldn't expect anything approaching a professional production, given that the show was put together in only four weeks and that MIT's pool of performing arts talent, though strong, is not considered on par with that of Northwestern. Even so, it is easy to call "Baby" a success.

This upbeat and endearing show depicts the lives of three couples. Danny and Lizzie are an unmarried pair of college students who unexpectedly find that they are future parents. Nick and Pam, a track coach and an ex-tomboy, are trying to have a child but not having much luck. Alan and Arlene are a middle-aged couple who, with all three of their children in college, are forced to face some tough questions about their marriage when they are surprised by the prospect of an incoming baby.

But don't let me make you think its a somber and serious show. Some weighty issues lie at the heart of the story, but "Baby" is first and foremost an uplifting comedy. And the music is some of the best you'll hear, in a lively, comic score that is hard not to like.

The real strength of this production, though, lies in the enthusiasm of its cast. Its six stars range from competent to excellent, topped off by an especially dazzling performance by Jessica Phillips as Pam. The chorus is good with strong voices and stage presence; the staging and choreography both add to the appeal of some of the musical numbers, such as "Fatherhood Blues" and "The Ladies Singing Their Song," which includes dancing trees -- yes, dancing trees.

Yet, as much as I'd like to compliment this show, it has several weaknesses that have to be expected from a non-professional production. There are a few missed harmonies and some slow-moving scenes. Dialog and lyrics are sometimes missed because of either a lack of projection or bad acoustics, and there is a sign warning the arriving audience of possible lighting problems. Although no mistake is glaringly obvious or disruptive, there are enough of them to make the show's shortcomings noticeable. However, there are not enough to markedly detract from this enjoyable production, whose cast's energy and likable presence win out over its flaws.

While "Baby" might not be ideal for those accustomed to top-notch Broadway productions, if you don't fall into this overly-cultured category, there are two remaining performances Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. in La Sala de Puerto Rico which I recommend.