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  • Olivia Cox

Review - Babies the Musical

The Other Palace Theatre

Playing until: 14 July




Photo credit: Matt Crockett

Review {AD-PR Gifted}

After three concert performances at the Lyric Theatre last November, fans of new British musical Babies were eager to see a fully staged production hit the London theatre scene. Turns out, they didn’t have to wait too long, as a shiny new production of Babies just opened at The Other Palace.


Written by Jack Godfrey and Martha Geelan, Babies follows a group of fresh-faced Year 11 (~16 years old) students tasked with looking after a gaggle of plastic baby simulators for a week, while juggling the other trials and tribulations of teenage existence. I wasn’t previously too familiar with the musical myself, but from the moment the characters burst onto stage, I knew I was in for a real treat.


Every character is distinctive, from the social media-obsessed Becky (Jaina Brock-Patel) to the homework-obsessed Jasmine (Lauren Conroy). The casting is superb, with each actor offering a vivid look into different pockets of teenage life, guided with ease by Geelan’s direction.


The intensely catchy pop-rock musical numbers are amplified to the highest voltage by Babies’ very strong cast of vocalists, with each song bubbling with the boundless energy of a teenager who’s just necked a can of Prime.


Godfrey clearly has a gift for penning an earworm, with several of the musical numbers sticking in my head long after I’d left the theatre. But I must specifically give a shoutout to “Hot Dad”, a song about the sex appeal some of the teens believe they’ve gained after becoming a “father”, which is surely an early contender for the most raucously fun musical theatre moment of the year.


Alexzandra Sarmiento’s choreography has an equally delightful youthful energy to match the bouncy score, and Jasmine Swan’s movable set helps to maintain the show’s peppy dynamic, creating seamless scene changes and compelling movement sequences.


But between the laughs and upbeat musical numbers, the show also tackles many of the issues faced by teenagers (and adults), from sexuality and relationships to loneliness and fearing the future. The dazzling cast of Babies tackles these masterfully, richly capturing the muddling medley of emotions that come with growing up.


There’s no central character, each teen gets their fair share of standout lines and musical numbers, but many of the most emotionally raw moments are seen within Leah’s character arc, played with a hard-edged vulnerability by a compelling Zoë Athena.


Another particularly touching character development comes in the form of popular ‘bad boy’ Jacob (Nathan Johnston) learning to co-parent with the supremely confident, openly gay Toby (Bradley Riches). Johnston delivers a heartachingly lovable performance that’s balanced perfectly by Riches’s unbridled charisma and comic timing.


When I initially read the synopsis of the show, I did wonder how a group of schoolkids looking after plastic babies could form the basis of a fully-fleshed, two-act musical. But I’m thrilled to say I needn’t have had a single concern. Babies is a riotously funny, surprisingly tender, and utterly delightful watch that certainly makes the grade.


Creatives

Music and Lyrics: Jack Godfrey

Book and Director: Martha Geelan

Orchestrations, Vocal Arrangements and Music Supervisor: Joe Beighton

Choreographer: Alexzandra Sarmiento

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