To baby or not to baby…

I headed out to Peoria with Lizabeth on Saturday for our first experience with Arizona Broadway Theatre, something that’s much easier now than when she was tiny thanks to all those fabulous freeways.

We were eager to see D. Scott Withers, an actor and director we know from Childsplay and Greasepaint Youtheatre, perform in the Arizona Broadway Theatre production of a musical called “Baby” that follows the lives of three couples at different ages and stages. All have babies either on board or on the brain.

After raising three children Alan (D. Scott Withers) and Arlene (Caroline McPhee) learn that they are expecting a fourth child (Sun Photography)

Withers shared with me after the show that “Baby” was one of his favorite musicals during the 1980s, and recalled expecting to play the role of college student “Danny” one day. Instead, he plays “Alan” — half of an older couple that I find the most fascinating of the three.

I was eager to escape from “debt ceiling” debates that have left me screaming at the television of late. And all the 1980s fare, including polyester track suits and permed hair, certainly did the trick. So did the many poignant and comical moments shared by each of the couples.

“Baby” is full of one-liners that cut to the very core of parenting’s many challenges, but also songs that capture its exquisite beauty. It’s a “must see” for couples expecting a baby and new parents, as well as those of us changed by the wisdom, wonder and weighty issues parenting brings.

College student Lizzie (Elizabeth McMonagle) surrounded by women eager to touch her tummy and share childbirth memories (Sun Photography)

It’s been a long time since I saw a musical that made me cry, but the final song of Act 1 (“The Story Goes On”) caused a gusher. “I Chose Right” in Act I and “Easier to Love” in Act 2 are just as moving. “Baby” is full of music best described as “sweet” and the story itself is truly charming.

It was a treat to experience both good acting and stellar singing in a single production. There’s little dance in “Baby” — but more basketball dribbling than you might imagine, and even a little orchestrated time with baseball bats.

“Baby” is a true-to-life glimpse into how relationships ebb and flow over time, and how children alter the mix in both glorious and gut-wrenching ways. I was glad to have experienced it with my youngest daughter.

Nick (Brad Rupp), Danny (Nick Anastasia) and Alan (D. Scott Wither) with ensemble members in BABY at Arizona Broadway Theatre in Peoria (Sun Photography)

I’m hoping to enjoy more Arizona Broadway Theatre productions this season. They’re presenting an intriguing mix of works, including several I have yet to experience. Think “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Tarzan” and “The Odd Couple.”

If big dance numbers are your thing, check out Arizona Broadway Theatre’s “A Chorus Line” (Oct 14-Nov 19) or “The Will Rogers Follies.” The latter features two songs that capture my approach to life better than most — “Give a Man Enough Rope” and “Never Met a Man I Didn’t Like.”

We didn’t opt for dinner before the show, but it’s a fun option for Arizona Broadway Theatre-goers — and you can check the menu options online before deciding whether to wine and dine while you’re there.

The cast of BABY at Arizona Broadway Theatre in Peoria (Sun Photography)

It looks like speciality drinks are tailored to each show, with “Baby” choices including “The Empty-Nester,” “The Oopsie!-Tini” and “The Pacifier.” Still, I’m more of a coffee and cheesecake or gelato type gal.

It’s easy to imagine a great evening out with friends at Arizona Broadway Theatre. I wish we’d known of it years ago when planning a milestone anniversary party for James’ parents.

I still remember seeing “Man of La Mancha” with my father at a Denver dinner theater when I was young. It felt magical and larger than life — and it beat the heck out of trout fishing.

— Lynn

Coming up: Superheros in Scottsdale, Tea party tales, Pictures from AriZoni nomination night


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