Babes in Arms
By Andrew Andrews
You might think you know Babes in Arms, but unless you’ve seen this production, you haven’t experienced this version of the story.
Differing significantly from both the Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland film and the 1950s plot about helping a troubled playhouse owner, Beane’s story is closer to the original, but lacks its penchant for violence, and casts Val’s love interest Billie as a “boette,” or girl hobo.
Featuring the original musical numbers in roughly the same order, I saw plenty of audience members joyfully singing along.
The rustic décor of the Forestburgh Playhouse is the perfect complement to the setting, allowing the performers to spill out into the aisles without exactly breaking the fourth wall.
Projections of vintage film footage and other images onto the back wall and movable curtains added delightful visuals to the gorgeous set and lighting effects, although there was a singular moment when a few seconds of recent color TV news video created a very disappointing anachronism.
Like most lighthearted musical comedies, there isn’t much depth to this story, aside from the intentional mishandling of the racist producer by Valentine.
While the actors seemed a little older than their characters, the portrayals were spot-on, and the director and choreographer have done great work getting the best delivery out of everyone on stage, especially during the many fun dance routines.
Of course, the highlight of every musical is the songs. The small but talented band was supported by actors playing guitar, violin and saxophone as needed, and all did a fine job. The vocals, too, were all very, very good, although my partner and I agreed that the
As a cultural institution in the Sullivan Catskills for 75 years, Forestburgh Playhouse is no novice at creating performances of this caliber, and Babes in Arms is the perfect story for the venue and its surrounds. If you’re a fan of musical comedies and you live in or around Sullivan County, attending this performance will surely make you feel “wonder-happy!”
Andrew Andrews attended Babes in Arms at Forestburgh Playhouse in Forestburgh on Wednesday, August 25, 2021 @ 8:00pm to write this review.