Saturday, 9 June 2007

Babes in Arms - Chichester Festival Theatre

Babes in Arms by Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart & George Oppenheimer
Chichester Festival Theatre: 29 May - 7 July
Directed by: Martin Connor
Musical Direction by : Mark Warman
Choreography: Bill Deamer
Reviewed by Linda Hutton - Accident & Emergency Receptionist

A rare opportunity presents itself for musical comedy lovers to see a new adaptation of Rodgers and Hart’s Babes in Arms at the Chichester Festival Theatre. This latest version is based on the original script, which was a big success on Broadway, and on George Oppenheimer’s 1959 adaptation. The original score is also used as the basis for the first-rate new orchestrations.

Originally written in 1937 it follows a predictably cheesy story line about a group of young people who try and put on their own show in The Old Barn, next to the Cane Theatre in Cape Cod. The 1939 classic movie version with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney is remembered for the line ‘Let’s put a show on, right here in the barn!’ This gives a lovely link to the current production with Lorna Luft, daughter of Judy Garland, taking the leading role of Mrs Phyllis Owen.

The exceptionally talented cast created many unforgettable moments with Billie (Donna Steele) giving outstanding performances of ‘The Lady is a Tramp’ and ‘My Funny Valentine’ and alongside Val (Mark McGee) in ‘Where or When’. Baby Rose Owen (Sophia Ragavelas) cartwheeled her way into our hearts with her cringing portrayal of a young starlet brought in to save the day in a small town show.

Choreographer Martin Connor is to be congratulated on the tremendous dance routines especially the tap routine of the talented trio of Irving (Ashley Day), Ted (Darren J Fawthrop) and Peter (Charles Ruhrmund), which drew the loudest and most sustained applause from the audience during the entire show.

The simple yet effective set lent itself to the seamless scene changes and faultless lighting. The cast were skilfully directed by Martin Connor making the most of the large open stage and even at one point swinging from the rafters! This certainly is a show with a delightful feel-good factor you can take the whole family to see.

Babes in Arms Runs at the Chichester Festival Theatre until 7th July for more information visit

Photos by Catherine Ashmore
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