Photo: Carol Rosegg


by Carole Di Tosti


In the musical The Babies, written and directed by Lloyd J. Schwartz with music by Matt Dahan and lyrics by Lloyd J. Schwartz and Anthony Gruppuso, the conceptualization of babies is at once simple yet complex. Coupled with a soupcon of magical realism, Lloyd’s/Gruppuso’s The Babies suggests a few intriguing thematic threads beyond their attempts to be humorous and fun. All of these relate to the idea that babies may be more canny than their parents give them credit for. Interestingly, adults do not appear in the production; we only experience the babies’ consciousness, reality and response to their surroundings, as imagined by Schwartz and Gruppuso.

Indeed, as one of the babies at the end of the production quotes from Biblical scriptural verse, “a little child shall lead them,” Lloyd and Gruppuso underscore the wisdom of children throughout the playfulness of this production which begins with four babies in their embryonic states. In the womb (suggested with lighting on a white background and four actors making various slow-motion movements), the babies know their gender and question who and what their identity will be. Their mothers, who are in the same Lamaze class, are unaware of their babies’ consciousness.

The production’s music is melodic and appropriate for the simplicity, humor and depth of themes. The staging and sets are functional and adequate for the four separate scenes: Lamaze, Maternity Ward, Mommy and Me and Preschool. For the most part, the score enhances the sometimes clever song lyrics which reveal the story of four children (two boys and two girls) from diverse backgrounds as they evolve on their journeys and end up in preschool together.

The evening I saw The Babies, there were two substitute performers. These were for the characters of Desmond (a fine performance by David Holland standing in for Parnell Damone Marcano) and Sophie (Krista Swan, standing in for Barbara Mallory, whose “old soul” persona was manifested by her strong voice and presence onstage). The other two baby characters Joshua (Anthony Gruppuso is humorous and always original) and Spring (Jayme Lake the sweet, innocent baby who is given up for adoption) rounded out the troupe whose pleasant voices filled the auditorium during their ensemble musical numbers which were the strongest in the show (“Hey There World,” “Potty Trained” “A Baby Like Me”).

Lloyd/Gruppuso with these songs (“The Babies,” “I Want to be Special,” “What Are Friends For?” “Old Soul,” “Dif, Dif, Dif’rences,”), indicate the notion some scientists posit that in the womb, babies may have the ability to understand and communicate on another level with a consciousness that is developed until they swim/tumble/leap out from their mother’s womb. This consciousness gradually dissipates as they become accustomed to the distractions of the material, physical world and cultural and social mores and folkways.

In the first part of the show, though it may appear to be a contrivance that makes little sense, the children communicate with each other in the womb. The ideas of friendship, tolerance, love and acceptance become the lynchpins for the babies as they journey to their time in pre-school. We never hear or see their parents, however, and only know the adults through the babies discussion of them.

After the babies are born, Lloyd/Gruppuso continue with revealing the child-like wisdom as each of the babies reveal their difficulties with their particular situations: Spring is adopted, Sophie’s father gets a divorce, Joshua deals with cutting Jewish cultural traditions, Desmond’s father is in the military. During the revelation of their situational problems, the babies receive love and understanding from each other. How do they see one another? Their mothers remain friendly because their children were all born in the same hospital on the same day. As they enter the growing community of children in their pre-school environments, the babies affirm the values that have brought them this far: love, friendship and the wisdom of the child’s guileless perceptions and sense of faith.

If there is a lesson that the show’s creators would hope to give us it is this: these sterling values and qualities that the babies manifest, adults need to reawaken in their own lives.

The Babies is at St. Luke’s Theatre (308 West Forty-sixth Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, Box Office numbers: 212-246-8140, 212-947-3499). Performances for The Babies are Thursday evenings at 7 pm, Friday evenings at 8 pm, and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 pm. The show runs ninety minutes without an intermission.  You may buy tickets at Telecharge: