2nd Star Productions Be My BabyBy Betsy Marks Delaney • Mar 17th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
2nd Star Productions
Bowie Playhouse, Bowie, MD
Through March 26th
2:30 with one intermission
Reviewed March 12th, 2011
To have great comedy, it’s not enough to have a funny script. Finding the right talent is essential, and 2nd Star Productions’ Charles W. Maloney has done a spectacular job with the delightful Be My Baby, now playing at the Bowie Playhouse.
From Ken Ludwig’s web site: “The play tells the story of an irascible Scotsman and an uptight English woman, John and Maude, both in their late 50s, who are unexpectedly thrown together on the journey of a lifetime. John and Maude are brought together when his ward marries her niece. Then, when the young couple decides to adopt a new born baby, the older couple has to travel 6,000 miles to California to pick up the child and bring her safely home to Scotland. The problem is, John and Maude despise each other. To make matters worse, they get stranded in San Francisco for several weeks and are expected to jointly care for the helpless newborn. There they form a new partnership and learn some startling lessons about life and love.”
Maloney’s two leads are blessed with the gifts of impeccable timing and onstage chemistry that make this hilarious show a pleasure to watch. Fred Nelson plays John Campbell, a blustery country Scotsman with a heart of pure marshmallow. Nelson has served as King Henry VIII at the Maryland Renaissance Festival for the last 10 years, one of his best known (but by no means only) roles in the region.
Heather Tuckfield plays London-sophisticate Maud Kinch, a perfect foil to Nelson’s down to earth. Together on stage, these two give off more sparks than a Disneyland fireworks display.
With the support of Natalia Esteve as Maud’s sex-starved niece Gloria and Eric Small as John’s hapless ward Christy, and ample laughs from ensemble members James McDaniel (whose very appearance, by the end of the show, caused laughter before he opened his mouth), Janice Coffey (especially as the Nurse), Shenna Ross, Kate Baldwin, Marty Hayes and Phil Penne (bag piper who speaks volumes without saying a word), the entire cast made it worth sitting through all 27 (!) of the scene changes dictated by the script enhanced (for the most part) by the multi-talented Fred Nelson’s apt sound design.
The delightful scenery and costumes exquisitely designed and executed by Jane B. Wingard and her assistants made the show a real treat. There were a few pregnant pauses while the scene changed, but that was really the only issue (and a minor one at that), and the overall production more than made up for those few instances.
On the whole, an enjoyable evening and well worth the trip to Bowie White Marsh Park.
There are actually two contemporary plays named “Be My Baby”. A laboriously serious one written in the late nineties, about an unwed young girl from a religious family, who is forced to give up her baby. I can only imagine that one to be a trying evening in the theatre for actor and audience. There have been several songs titled “Be My Baby”, the most famous, of course, being the 1963 hit by The Ronettes. Which brings us to this gem by Ken Ludwig, the author of Moon Over Buffalo, and Lend Me A Tenor, among many others. This is an endearing love story for those pushing Social Security, and with its 27 scene changes, plays like a TV sitcom. Ludwig says, “My plays generally unfold in one location, a green room, or hotel room. So writing in this form was a challenge, akin to writing a screen play.” Directing it was somewhat akin to that as well! This play is also a tribute to children, and how having a child in your life makes you look at your esprit, and all your relationships differently. The script specifically calls for a lot of music from “The King.” I was never an Elvis aficionado. Sacrilege, I know, but for me, he reached his height at the ’68 Comeback Special, and was pretty much disappointing thereafter. At one point in the play, John comes back from a shopping special, and says, “I like this America. It frees you up!” A great representation of the feeling of that time in America. Elvis freed us up.
My thanks to the cast, not only for their delightful performances, but for their triple and quadruple duties as stage crew. Believe me, it’s like A Night At The Opera back there. Also, thanks to the Bowie Playhouse staff, Garrett, Pete, and Al, and to Joanne, without whom none of this would happen.
Charlie Maloney, Director
- John Campbell: Fred Nelson
- Maud Kinch: Heather Tuckfield
- Gloria Nance: Natalia Esteve
- Christy McCall: Eric Small
- Judge Weems: James McDaniel
- Parson McNair: Marty Hayes
- Mrs. Adams: Kate Baldwin
- Nancy Brenneman: Shenna Ross
- Stewardess: Janice Coffey
- Bagpiper: Phil Penne
- Dimitri: James McDaniel
- Doctor: James McDaniel
- Trendy Waiter: James McDaniel
- Gardener: Marty Hayes
- Maitre D’: Marty Hayes
- Beverly Merchant: Kate Baldwin
- Waitress: Shenna Ross
- Passenger: Shenna Ross
- Nurse: Janice Coffey
- Director: Charles W. Maloney
- Producer: Jane B. Wingard
- Stage Manager/Properties: Joanne D. Wilson
- Set Designer/Scenic Artist: Jane B. Wingard
- Scenic Assistants: Bill Bagaria, Gail Bagaria, John Davis, Kurt Gallagher
- Lighting Design: Garrett R. Hyde
- Sound Design: Fred Nelson
- Lighting/Sound Technician: Pete Dursin, Al Chopey, Walter Kleinfelder
- Costume. Coordinator: Jane B. Wingard
- Costume Assistants: Linda Swann, Mary George
- Dresser: Malarie Novotny
- Stage Crew: Cynthia Bentley
- Load In Crew: Garrett Hyde, Pete Dursin, Al Chopey, Walter
- Kleinfelder, Jane Wingard, Joanne Wilson, Duane Rouch, Steve Andrews,
- Bill Davis, Stevie Mangum, Dick Russell, Marty Hayes, Gail Bagaria,
- Bill Bagaria, John Davis, Kurt Gallagher, Cindy Bentley, Fred Bentley
- Publicity: Lynne Wilson, Beth Schultz, Jane Wingard
- Advertising: Debe Tighe, Lynne Wilson
- Webmaster: Lynne Wilson
- House & Box Office Manager: Jane B. Wingard
- Usher Coordinator: Jane B. Wingard
- Reservations: Jane B. Wingard
- Reservations Assistants : Gerry Verrier, Patti Mangum
- Photography: Debe Tighe
- Program: Lynne Wilson
Disclaimer: 2nd Star Productions provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/6314.
Betsy Marks Delaney is founder and Artistic Director of OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company (O2B2) and General Manager of the Greenbelt Arts Center. Since 2006 Betsy has worked as a director, producer, designer and more. Betsy has also worked with Washington Revels, Arena Stage, the now-defunct Harlequin Dinner Theatre and with community theatre companies both in Maryland and in upstate New York. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Technical Theatre from SUNY New Paltz. Through Hawkeswood Productions, Betsy produces archival performance videos and YouTube highlight spots.