Richard Maltby Jr., Sybille Pearson and David Shire will be present to see the birth of their Baby June 9, in a benefit concert featuring original cast members, in Irvington, NY.
Tickets are still available for the one-night-only concert revival of the beloved but short-lived 1983 Broadway musical about three couples facing parenthood. Members of the original cast — including Liz Callaway, Todd Graff, Catherine Cox and Martin Vidnovic — will sing the plucky score.
The concert draws on rewrites over the years by librettist Pearson, lyricist Maltby and composer Shire. Shire's wife, the actress Didi Conn, will serve as host of the benefit for the nonprofit Hudson Stage Company, the suburban New York City company that operates out of the Julie Harris Theatre within the Clearview School in Briarcliff Manor, NY, in Westchester County.
The contemporary, humane musical set in a college town had a short, but Tony Award-nominated life on Broadway, and has become a favorite in regional, stock and amateur productions. Roundabout Theatre Company presented a reading of the rewritten show under Maltby's direction, in 1999. There is hope among the collaborators that the re-christened Baby — unrelated to the concert — will be birthed in a major professional staging in the near future.
HSC co-founder Dan Foster said his wife, Liz Callaway, suggested Baby as a concert benefit for the troupe. Foster jokingly said he tries to "exploit her talent" whenever he can for the company, so it was suggested that she recreate her college-age role in the show. The original-cast idea snowballed from there. Beth Fowler (Bells Are Ringing) and James Congdon, who played the middle-aged couple surprised by pregnancy after sending their youngest to college, are busy with other projects. Cass Morgan (who has been involved with subsequent readings of a revised Baby) and Cris Groenendaal will play the older roles, Alan and Arlene. Callaway and Graff are Lizzie and Danny, college kids; and Cox and Vidnovic are the thirtysomething couple, Pam and Nick. The Broadway company was preserved on a cast album. Callaway, Morgan and Groenendaal are all members of HSC and have appeared in the troupe's events. Visitors to a certain Manhattan rehearsal studio the week of June 4 could hear Callaway belting out "I Want It All," one of the standouts of the score, and Foster told Playbill On-Line that people eagerly gathered in the hallway outside the door to listen in.
The benefit cast includes Denise Bessette, Catherine Campbell, Aidan Connolly, Kat Guthrie, Michael Cone, Terry Rakov deGroat and Jeffrey Hayenga.
Hudson Stage Company was founded three years ago by Denise Bessette, Dan Foster and Olivia Sklar with the mission of bringing new works to Westchester. Full productions and readings are part of the HSC season.
Baby will be performed 8 PM June 9 at the Irvington Town Hall Theatre in Irvington, NY, about 45 minutes from Broadway. Tickets are $75, and there are a limited number of $25 obstructed view seats available. For information and reservations, call (914) 271-2811.
— By Kenneth Jones