Nothing is more fun than a show performed by young people that’s actually about young people. Last fall we proved it with our first full-length musical-in-concert, Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along. This September we’ve got another show brimming with youth: Rodgers & Hart’s 1937 musical comedy Babes in Arms, performed at both Beck Center in Lakewood and at Kent State University.
As you know, last year we produced our musical-in-concert in partnership with Beck and Baldwin Wallace University, which has a nationally respected training program in musical theater. This time our partners are Beck and KSU, whose musical theater program, directed by Terri Kent, is also known far and wide.
Babes in Arms will be a treat thanks to the talent on stage (including music director Nancy Maier) and the high spirits of the show itself. In 1937 a new musical was lucky if it generated one or two hits songs. This one had four—and they remain with us as “standards”: “My Funny Valentine,” “Where or When,” “Johnny One-Note” and “I Wish I Were in Love Again.”
In his memoirs, composer Richard Rodgers recalls that during the summer of 1936, he and lyricist Lorenz Hart were “strolling through central park [and] noticed a bunch of kids in a playground who were making up their own games and rules.
“We began talking about what might happen if young people were suddenly given adult responsibilities—such as finding ways to earn a living [during the Depression]. One way might be to put on a big benefit show that would turn out to be a hit. And that’s the way Babes in Arms was born.” It’s interesting that from the beginning Rodgers & Hart—who also wrote the script—decided against hiring stars. They hoped that by casting their show with largely unknown performers, the audience “would welcome the opportunity to discover future stars themselves.”
Since many of Terri Kent’s students have gone on to successful careers in New York, you’ll have the same sense of wonderful discovery when you come to Beck or KSU. For ticket information, click here.