Babes in Arms is a lesser-known show by Richard Rodgers (before his more famous partnership with Oscar Hammerstein) and Lorenz Hart, and hasn’t been performed very often. It has been resurrected by All Star Productions at Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre.
The story concerns a group of kids whose artistic parents head off on tour one summer, leaving them to their own devices. With the threat of being carted off to summer camp, they try to come up with a show to put on to show how well they can work together.
I must admit I was confused as how old the kids in question were meant to be. Surely if they’re old enough to be at home on their own, they are old enough not to be sent to camp. However, I eventually took this for granted and paid attention to the story.
By and large it’s a light affair, but it does deal with themes such as racism in a way I hadn’t expected. The ending is somewhat ludicrous, but still entertaining.
The talented cast, including Ye Olde Rose and Crown regular Ruth Betteridge as Billie, give good performances and it’s a treat to hear some original songs in context. Babes in Arms might not be a forgotten masterpiece, but this strong production shows that it’s worth reviving.