Richard Maltby Jr. began directing a reworked workshop version of his musical, Baby, the week of Jan. 18 that will culminate in Roundabout Theatre readings Jan. 28-29 at the Roundabout studio rehearsal space.
Production insiders say the staged readings are a test to measure the viability of the material (songs by lyricist Maltby and composer David Shire) 16 years after its 1983 Broadway premiere and brief run. Readings and workshops are routine at theatres such as the Roundabout, and don't guarantee a full production, according to a Roundabout spokesperson.
Composer Shire and librettist Sybille Pearson have been on hand, with new pages going in and coming out in the rehearsal process. A production source told Playbill On-Line Pearson's book was altered early in the workshop to add depth to the warm musical comedy about three college town couples -- undergrads, a thirtysomething pair and a middle-aged duo -- who discover they are expecting babies.
Unlike the original production, the workshop script has the older of the three women (Arlene, played by Cass Morgan) losing her baby to a miscarriage and shows the couple (the husband, Alan, is played by Richard Muenz) struggling with the loss.
The score has not changed considerably, but some lyrics have been altered. Reprises of “Fatherhood Blues” and “I Chose Right,” and a restructuring of “Two People in Love,” were added in rehearsals. Arlene’s searching ballad, “Patterns,” cut in Broadway previews but recorded on the cast album, has been reinstated. The number, heard in Maltby and Shire’s revue, Closer Than Ever, is generally considered one of Maltby's strongest and most character-rich lyrics. The musical has found success in regional productions (in Chicago, for example, where Maltby directed it) and in stock and amateur stagings.
The company for the Roundabout reading includes Tony Award winning actor Jarrod Emick (Damn Yankees ) and Jessica Molaskey (Parade, Tommy ), who play the thirtysomething couple, and Dashiell Eaves (1776, The Sound of Music ) and Jessica Snow Wilson (Les Miserables), as young couple Danny and Lizzie.
The musical was based on a story developed by Susan Yankowitz. The original production starred Liz Callaway, Todd Graff, Beth Fowler, James Congdon, Catherine Cox, and Martin Vidnovic.