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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Babes In Arms
Union Theatre   Spring 2012

This 1937 Rodgers and Hart hit is a model of what Broadway musicals used to be like – the flimsiest of plots holding together one great song after another. And this particular example, with its 'Hey, kids, let's put on a show!' spirit, is tailor-made for a bright young cast and a modest fringe production. 

Actually, this is a 1950s rewrite by George Oppenheimer of the original script, which had the children of touring vaudevillians putting on a show to avoid being put to work. This time around they're the backstage crew of a summer stock theatre who have to battle the mean theatre owner to be allowed their moment onstage. 

Along the way the young songwriter falls for a visiting guest star while a girl stagehand pines for him, another couple squabble comically, and every few minutes we get to hear classics like 'My Funny Valentine', 'The Lady Is A Tramp', 'I Wish I Were In Love Again' and 'You're Nearer'. 

David Ball's production is bright and cheery, and if it sometimes seems a bit too realistic – that is, if the cast sometimes seem a bit too like the amateurs they're playing – it really can't hurt things. 

James Lacy as the songwriter and Carly Thoms as the visiting star get all the sweetest love songs ('Where Or When', 'Nearer'), while Catriona Mackenzie, the essence of spunky heroine, gets to sing the torchier 'My Funny Valentine'. 

Ben Redfern and Anna McGarahan provide the comic energy wishing they were in love again, but it is Jenny Perry who repeatedly stops the show, injecting some priceless Broadway pizazz with 'Way Out West', 'The Lady Is A Tramp' and 'Johnny One Note'.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - Babes In Arms - Union Theatre 2012   

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