Musical ‘Baby’ at Citadel explores the exhilarating, terrifying and life-changing experience of preparing for parenthood

The musical “Baby,” which Citadel Theatre of Lake Forest will perform from April 17 through May 19, presents the story of three couples who are each examining how a new baby will change the trajectories of their lives. The musical is being directed by Scott Shallenbarger, the former head of the theater department at Highland Park High School.

Shallenbarger was not very familiar with “Baby” before Citadel Artistic Director Scott Phelps proposed to him that he direct it. Shallenbarger quickly fell in love with the musical, in part because he himself became a parent at age 35 and again at 40 by adopting two sons with his husband. But more importantly, he explained, he admires the range of emotions and situations the musical presents among those three couples, even though all three are facing the common question of how their lives will change after a new baby is born.

“The couples are of three different age groups and the prospect of bringing a new life into the world raises issues of identity with each of the six prospective parents,” Shallenbarger said. “The youngest couple are college students Danny and Lizzie, who find themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy. They discover that some of their values weren’t as closely aligned as they had thought. Lizzie had believed she didn’t need to ever be married, while Danny feels he is duty bound to be officially wed. There’s also a couple in their 30s — Pam and Nick — who are coaches at the college Danny and Lizzie attend. Pam and Nick desperately want to conceive but have so far been unsuccessful in their attempts and their motivations go beyond a natural parenting instinct. As an athletic team coach, Pam is a woman in a traditionally male occupation and believes motherhood will enhance her sense of femininity. The third couple — Alan and Arlene — are, like Danny and Lizzie, experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. But Alan and Arlene are in their 40s, and having just sent their youngest child off to college, were looking forward to a life as empty nesters. At least Arlene was. Alan isn’t so sure how the absence of children in the home will affect their marriage.”

“What I especially love about Sybille Pearson’s script for ‘Baby’ is that even though the characters disagree with their partners about how to react to their situations, they are never cruel to each other because of these differences,” Shallenbarger said. “They all choose to deal with these obstacles with love and bravery. I hope to magnify that in our production. In our society today, issues of reproductive health — whether about how to deal with unplanned pregnancies or difficulties in conceiving — are widely discussed and debated, often acrimoniously. The kindness of ‘Baby’s’ characters in reacting to these universal challenges, for me, provides a beacon of hope that we can begin to solve these differences as a society. The songs by Maltby and Shire bring out the joy and humanity in the characters and help us see to see how they grow in their relationships and as individuals.”

“Baby” will be performed at Citadel Theatre from April 17 to May 19. Citadel Theatre is located in the West Campus building of the Lake Forest School District at 300 S. Waukegan Road, Lake Forest. Tickets and further information are available at, or by phone, at (847) 735-8554, ext. 1.

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