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‘Baby’ opening on FloArts stage

PALATKA – Is it a boy or a girl?

Curiosity builds as three couples experience the anticipation and arrival of a new life in “Baby,” a musical comedy coming to the main stage of the Florida School of the Arts, located on the Palatka campus of St. Johns River State College. Show times are Thursday, February 22 to Saturday, February 24 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, February 25 at 2:30 p.m.  Admission is $5.

The play is based on a book by Sybille Pearson. Director Kevin Kelly said, “What I’m excited about in directing this show is the writing. The fact that it really is a story. It’s not just an excuse for some pretty songs to be sung. It really is three very different complex stories about real human relationships — the difficulties as well as the joys. The story is nicely and intelligently written. It moves. It’s not redundant, and it really catches the subtleties and the nuances of serious relationships and marriages — the interactions between committed people. It gets deeper the more you work on it, and that’s always a good sign.”

Cast members are expected to execute the script in the way the writer intended. Kelly explained, “We work on those skills in classwork and then bring them into the performances and the rehearsals for those performances. We try to make it a unified learning experience.”

With a cast of young students, with no babies of their own, Kelly expects that the audience will bring much of the story with them from their own experiences — especially, the emotional element. “Childbirth is such a powerful mystery, a miraculous thing,” said Kelly.

“We just want the audience to bring themselves and their history. Everybody, in one way or another, has some history connected with a baby.”

The music for the show, by David Shire with lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr., has been tugging on Kelly’s heart strings as cast members sing to their babies. Kelly said he’s been singing at rehearsals more than he expected, as he watches the dilemmas build between the three couples. “Each scene launches the couples into the next scene, progressing very nicely for each of those three couples all the way through,” Kelly noted.

While it’s easy to make an emotional connection with the songs, Kelly explained that matching musical structure with storytelling is no easy task when pulling a musical together. “Especially for a musical, the wonderful challenge that everybody has is how to take storytelling, which is progressive by nature, and match that with the form of singing the three-verse chorus and one-bridge song structure,” he said. “How do you do that and move it forward? How do you keep that play moving with the songs, through the songs, rather than have the play stop and have a pretty song sung to move on? How do we uncover and manifest that these songs are part of moving that story forward? That’s a very tough thing, and I think the students are handling that challenge pretty well. They’re moving forward quite nicely.”

The play, written and set in 1980, will fully embrace the music, style, fashion and brilliant taste that America gave the world in the early 1980s, said Kelly. “We’re very excited about the opportunity to pay homage to some great cultural icons of our past. Shouldn’t musicals be fun?” he noted with a laugh.

While Kelly rates this fun musical as family-friendly, he added that “there is one word of profanity during a particular point of crisis for one character.”

The whole “Baby” experience, including intermission, will last about two and a half hours. “And you should be ‘expecting’ a good time,” Kelly said.

Cast members, in order of appearance, are: Alberto Blanco as Doctor; Torie D’Alessandro as Lizzie; Marcus Donaldson as Danny; Alantae Jackson as Alan; Kiersten Bartholomew as Arlene; Facia Lee as Pam; Matias De La Flor as Nick; Caitlin Charrier as nurse #1; Cameron Bartelt as Professor Weiss; Noah Peacock as Dean Webber; Emely Cuestas as woman #1; Gemma Smith as woman #2; Hayley Smith as woman #3; Emma Gazdecki as woman #4; Charrier as woman #5; Megan Leclair as woman #6; Kevin Figueroa – male ensemble; Kai Wilson – male swing; Angelee Ramos – female swing; Yul Carrion – male vocal swing; Brandon French – male vocal swing; and Christine Barnes – female vocal swing.

Professor Kandie Smith is the musical director. The production team includes choreographer Mary Love Ward; scene designer Robert O’Leary; Costume Designer Emily Schafer; lighting designer Brittany Posso; sound designer Braden Harrington; assistant director Charrier; stage manager Kati Blankenship; assistant stage manager Alysa Ness; assistant music director Peacock; assistant choreographer Robert Allen; assistant to the costume designer Danielle Brown; production assistants: Kaylee Dowd, Danielle DuBois, Kirsten Rude; costume shop manager Tiffany Jordan; sound engineer and board operator Harrington; assistant technical director Andrew Stevens; paint charge Patricia Williams; assistant paint Charge Anna Guzman; Master Carpenter John Robinson; Light Board Operator Andrew Stevens; properties masters: Posso and Robinson; wardrobe head Jasmine Saumat; dressers: Sarah Cox, Uvenka Jean-Baptiste, Marissa Mendez and Maycee Smith; costume construction crew: Danielle Brownfield; Jid Charles, Cox, Dowd; Jean-Baptiste, Jessica McCumber, Mendez, Ness, Brandi Ramos, Saumat, Smith and Jordan Tucker; Carpenters, electricians and painters: Bartelt; Blankenship, Rose Boorjian, Jahleel Christian, Dana Cox, Crystal Cruz, De La Flor, Danielle DuBois, Melissa Gibbs, Guzman, Harrington, Loudise Ortiz-Hernandez, Posso, Robinson, Stevens, Vincent Ward and Williams; Understudies: Bartelt, Blanco, Charrier, Cuestas, Peacock and Smith.

Florida School of the Arts is part of the academic and administrative structure of SJR State and awards the two-year associate degree. The School serves the entire state of Florida and is located on the SJR State Palatka campus. For more information, call 386-312-4300 or visit the website at floarts.org.

Baby_FloArts.jpg: Surprise, surprise! It’s a …baby? Florida School of the Arts presents “Baby,” a musical comedy featuring three very different complex stories about real human relationships. Show times are Thursday, February 22 to Saturday, February 24 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, February 25 at 2:30 p.m.

About PluggedInto (724 Articles)
PluggedInto is an ePublication covering news, history, local events and more in the Putnam/Flagler/St. Johns tricounty area.

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