By CONNIE FISHER
In the world of theater, the theme of a musical often is fantasy. Davidson Community Players’ current musical production “Baby,” while entertaining, actually deals with reality. The story revolves around three distinct sexual relationships revealing the strength of their emotions and love toward one another. The language in “Baby” is realistic, mature and at times very funny.
Set in a college town (much like Davidson), “Baby” follows three couples: A pair of 20-year-old unmarried students who discover they’re going to have a baby; a 30-something professional couple that has been trying for years to get pregnant; and two middle-age parents on the verge of becoming empty nesters, who unexpectedly find they are expecting.
Their stories are told through words put to music—20 well-enunciated, descriptive songs, at times overlapping, performed in two energetic acts. The featured couples are supported by a lively ensemble of singers.
Area theater buffs who have watched KC Roberge grow up on the Davidson boards will be enchanted with her portrayal of Lizzie, an exuberant student thrilled by the prospect of becoming a mother. Ms. Roberge dominates the stage, in uplifting song and open emotions. Equally enchanting is Lizzie’s young lover, Danny Hooper, played by Austin Larkin, a Cannon School senior with a promising career in the theater. His recent portrayal of Matt, a leading role in “The Fantasticks” for Cannon, showed off his acting proficiency.
Emily Hunter and Austin Larkin, as the campus professionals Pam and Nick Sakarian, are accomplished actors. Obviously they are comfortable on stage, whether in dialogue or song, exercising, arguing, making love, bouncing a ball, or in bed. Some of their scenes are so touching they evoke a tender degree of emotion.
The middle-aged pair, Arlene and Alan McNally, is played by Christy Hinkleman, a newcomer to the Davidson stage and veteran actor Kevin Roberge. Their roles elicit ordinary, everyday emotional situations, many with which the audience might easily identify. Their performances are credible—intimate, comical, sad, loving. How else could they conceive at their age following an anniversary celebration at The Plaza.
Larry Ligo portrays a doctor in a style he’s known to play so well—comedy, verbally and in mime. Ensemble singer Della Knowles also plays a real estate agent with obnoxious gusto. And Tony Basinger, as a college professor, renders a melodic refrain during one of many ensemble exits. The all-male rendition of “Fatherhood Blues” which includes a peppy duet by Kevin Roberge and Austin Larkin, is superb.
Staging “Baby” is tricky. Action bounces back and forth between couples and sometimes even overlaps. Director Melissa Ohlman-Roberge uses three separate sets for Davidson’s small Armour Street Theatre. The couples perform individually in time or place, but sometimes also collectively. Lighting becomes a key element, effectively accomplished by Kelly John. Suzanne Hyde’s hand-painted scenic design around the entire stage is unique, offsetting the theme of Ms. Roberge’s backdrop of enlarged black-and-white photographs of babies and love.
WANT TO GO?
“Baby” continues over the next two weekends, through Oct. 21, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets may be reserved by calling 704-892-7953 or at www.davidsoncommunityplayers.org.