Babes in Arms review at Union London
One of the beautiful things about Babes In Arms is that it never takes itself too seriously. The plot, such as it is, tells the story of a bunch of young Broadway hopefuls working for less than scale at a struggling theatre in Cape Cod. Amid the secret crushes, tap dancing stage-hands and popular songs the script is a celebration of youthful exuberance where anyone over the age of 30 can rarely be trusted.
David Ball’s production features some memorable moments, not least thanks to Lizzie Gee’s inventive choreography that livens up each of the big numbers to great effect. The quieter moments in the script are easily the more forgettable and there are some particularly questionable performances in minor roles that tend to sap the energy of the piece.
As much as James Lacey and Catriona Mackenzie work hard to bring the leading juveniles to life there is very little chemistry between them. Mackenzie puts in more of a winning turn as Susie Ward, negotiating the ups and downs of teenage angst to great effect and bringing heart to the perennial favourite My Funny Valentine.
Jenny Perry, too, is rather wonderful as the self-deprecating Bunny Byron and perhaps comes closest to capturing the spirit of the show. Blessed with two of the best numbers in the score and a cast of nimble chorus boys to support her, Perry is a constant joy to watch whether camping up Way Out West On West Avenue or declaring a healthy lack of pretention in The Lady is a Tramp.
Babes In Arms might be lightweight but if it’s fun you are after from a night at the theatre, then this is a good place to start.
Union, London, April 18-May 12
- Richard Rodgers (music), Lorenz Hart (lyrics), George Oppenheimer (book)
- David Ball
- The Union Theatre
- James Lacey, Catriona Mackenzie, Ben Redfern, Anna McGarahan, Jenny Perry, Stuart Pattenden and Peter Dukes
- Running time