Countless times each day – in the warmth and intimacy of a typically small nursery – a beautiful baby joins the world. This past weekend – in like manner - in a warm and intimate unobtrusive location in lovely downtown Freehold, an absolutely magnificent theatrical performance of the thirty-some year old limited-Broadway-run musical, Baby, joined the world.
Tucked within the downtown Freehold business district, Center Players almost always offers performances far, far above that which one may often experience in Community Theater. Baby, falls well within that list of remarkably fine Center Players’ theatrical presentations.
Baby is a bit of a dramatic comedy about three divergent couples, each anticipating the arrival of a baby into their lives. Each couple is enraptured with the joy – and the complexity and anxieties – of oncoming parenthood …. and with the contemplation of challenges which inevitably emerge, as parents, as individuals, as a baby impacts life, family, relationship, roles.
Perhaps first penned best in the mid-1980’s by the then noted NY Times film critic Frank Rich, “Baby is a modestly scaled entertainment that woos us with such basic commodities as warm feeling, an exuberant cast and a lovely score. ‘Perfect’ …. Baby is not, but it often makes up in buoyancy and charm what it lacks in forceful forward drive.” With but a quick closing of my eyes in reflection, Frank Rich could have easily been speaking of the Center Players’ presentation of Baby in Freehold last Saturday evening.
As with any quality theatrical performance, it is – largely – the result of the talent of those who so perform. Clearly, the talent in Center Players’ rendition of Baby exudes completely remarkable talent. Several of those who rather regularly perform in Freehold were, of course, present …. and, as always, so entertained in a manner which matches (or exceeds) that which one often sees in a far more expansive professional venue. The always-terrific Anthony Greco as Nick is simply wonderful in the role. Alexandra Laks as Lizzie and Howard Smith as Professor Weiss performed completely as those who consistently support Center Players have come to expect. Each offers a superb performance.
New to Center Players and, therefore, performing in Freehold for the first time, are Katie Reed as The Nurse, Paul Caliendo as The Doctor, Marcy Zieve Kouveliotes as Mrs. Hart, Antje Weymann as Arlene, Jessica O’Brien as Pam, Michael Drake as Danny, and Michael Dalberg as Alan.
While dangerous and difficult to differentiate between a complete cast as talented as is this one, Michael Dalberg – as a newcomer to Center Players …. well, for those who both understand and love talent, it will be a terrific treat to see Michael Dalberg return often as a Center Players’ “regular.”
Of course, any musical requires so much more than does a non-musical. Oftentimes – most especially in Community Theater – selecting folks who can (and do) act well is not quite as difficult as selecting those who can BOTH act and sing. With remarkable skill, the ability of each of the above to do both is uncanny in Center Players’ Baby. The offering of beautiful singing in – (to note just a few selections) – What Could Be Better?, The Story Goes On, Romance, Easier to Love, and What If We Had Loved Like That? …. a quick scan of the audience during each found virtually no one whose laughter was vacant of spontaneity …. and even more telling, in fact, oftentimes not a dry eye in the house.
Baby …. Indeed, a beautiful performance in Freehold, NOT to be missed.
(Guest Blogger for Center Players, Fred Hertrich is a multi-decade proud resident of Freehold. With no theatrical experience whatsoever he is the remarkably family-fortunate lifetime husband of Violet, and father of three children, all of whom were educated, in part, in the Freehold Township and Freehold Regional Schools, as is, presently, one of his grandchildren.)
BABY the Musical continues its run at Center Playhouse (located at 35 South Street in downtown Freehold) through Sunday, March 2nd with performances on Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. Tickets are $27 for Adults and $25 for Seniors & Students including gourmet desserts and refreshments. Group rates for parties of ten or more are available. Seating is extremely limited per performance so call the box office at (732) 462-9093 to reserve your seats or visit us online at www.CenterPlayers.org.