Steel Beam’s ‘Be My Baby’ plays with stereotypes

From left, Rob Frankel, JoAnn Smith and Chris Williams star “Be My Baby.”  | submitted
From left, Rob Frankel, JoAnn Smith and Chris Williams star “Be My Baby.” | submitted

First impressions can often be deceiving.

That’s what Scotsman John and Brit Maude learn when they are thrown together in “Be My Baby,” which opens May 9 at Steel Beam Theatre in St. Charles.

“The playwright plays with the stereotype of Scotland, not only the dialect and dress, but also the thought that they are strong, rugged, a little stubborn and also tight-fisted,” said Director Larry Boller said. “And the woman, Maude, is typically an English matron. So, the Scottish vs. the English and the animosity they cast toward one another as they are thrown together.”

The two are brought together when Maude’s niece and John’s nephew marry. The newlyweds decide to adopt a child that a distant cousin does not want. John and Maude are sent to pick up the newborn, and end up getting stranded in San Francisco.

“They basically learn to appreciate each other, to like each other, and they fall in love,” Boller said. “And it’s all built around their affection for this baby.

“I think the audience will enjoy it,” he said.

This is the first play Boller is directing at Steel Beam. He previously appeared on stage there in “The Seafarer.”

Set in 1963, “Be My Baby” features six cast members, including two who play multiple roles. The big challenge for the show is that the plot moves from location to location, he said.

“You’re all over the place from the States to Scotland to an airplane to an airport to a courtroom …,” Boller said. “You have to keep the set very, very simple, or suggestive, and keep moving pieces around in order to have the flow of the play. You have to be very flexible, and you have to stick to your guns as far as being suggestive rather than realistic. You can’t bring in every little piece of furniture that you might otherwise have in the room because it’s going to have to be out of there in two minutes.”

That also means props have to be kept to a minimum as well.

“The props kind of have to be hand props that you can carry on and carry off,” Boller said. “You’re responsible for them. Simple is the key word. Keep it simple. Keep it light. Keep the show moving.”

This is the second show by playwright Ken Ludwig produced by Steel Beam this season. Earlier this year, Boller’s wife, Marge Uhlarik-Boller, directed the Ludwig-penned play “Postmortem.” Ludwig’s most famous show, “Lend Me a Tenor,” is a fast-paced farce.

“This is more leisurely paced, and a gentle comedy. I think they both have their appeal, but they’re very different,” Boller said. “And the one Marge directed before was a mystery, a humorous mystery. They’re all campy in their own way.”

Also onstage at Steel Beam is the final children’s play of the season, “The Tale of Snow White.” The show opens May 10 and runs through June 1. Showtimes are 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturdays, and 1 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students age 16 and younger.

’BE MY BABY’

May 9-June 1

Steel Beam Theatre, 111 W. Main St., St. Charles

$23-$28

(630) 587-8521

SteelBeamTheatre.com

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