"NOVEMBER 14, 2021 7:50 PM
BABY: CHARM-FILLED MALTBY-SHIRE MUSICAL MAKES A WELCOME RETURN
By Steven Suskin
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Julia Murney, Liz Flemming, Danielle Summons, and Jamila Sabares-Klemm in Baby. Photo: Jo Chiang
The joys of Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire’s score for the 1983 musical Baby are immediately apparent through the first scenes of the revised version which opened tonight. After three pairs of prospective parents go through their opening numbers, they mellifluously glide into a six-voice cacophony of expectancy, the liltingly bouncy “Baby, Baby, Baby.” What—to quote one of those opening songs—could be better than that?
The score over the rest of the evening remains mostly near, or at, this exuberant level. You might well wonder, then, why Baby has been relegated to the sidelines of musical-comedy memory. The answer becomes apparent soon thereafter, when that old devil “book trouble” overtakes the songwriters. No matter how high lyricist Maltby and composer Shire soar thereafter, the dialogue scenes and schematically skewed plotting interrupt the anticipated bliss of the characters. And of the audience, too."