BWW Review: BABES IN TOYLAND at The Growing Stage Charms

BWW Review: BABES IN TOYLAND at The Growing Stage Charms

Editor's Note: We welcome this guest review from Jack Wooldridge. Jack is a writer, musician, and freelance web developer from Liberty, NJ. He does work for clients in various fields, from gaming podcasts and libraries to international corporations. When not reviewing musicals or coding websites, he can invariably be found attempting to master Beethoven or curled up with a good book. To learn more about Jack Wooldridge, visit his Upwork profile: https://www.upwork.com/o/profiles/users/_~01f2b65fc760597ce6/.

Babes in Toyland has enchanted audiences ever since it's 1903 debut as an operetta at the Majestic Theatre in New York. This charming adaption, created by Perry Kroeger and Stephen Fredericks, preserves the unforgettable music of the original while presenting its own twist on the classic tale. Directed by Lori B. Lawrence, the musical features Danny Campos and Donald Danford as the bumbling duo Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, Sarah Daniels as the forgetful Bo Peep, and David Spellman - finally back at The Growing Stage - as the villainous Barnaby. Now showing at the The Growing Stage Theatre in Netcong, NJ through December 16th, it's a wonderful production with something for kids of all ages.

You might think you know the story of Babes in Toyland, but, if you've never seen it at The Growing Stage, you're in for a surprise. Bo Peep and Tom-Tom (Niall Ng) have fallen in love, but the conniving slumlord Barnaby will do anything - up to and including kicking Mother Goose (Gloria Lamoureux) out of her shoe - to make her his bride. When one of the Three Little Pigs goes missing and Tom-Tom is blamed, it's up to Bo Peep, Tweedle Dee, and Tweedle Dum to clear his name - if they can avoid creating an even bigger problem in the process!

BWW Review: BABES IN TOYLAND at The Growing Stage Charms

The set is lavish, saturated with color and featuring artist-in-residence Perry Kroeger's charming, playful illustrations. Backdrops slide in and out, unfolding or rotating to reveal entirely new settings. In this way, they give each location its own personality within the wider world of Toyland. Easily the best example of this is Barnaby's castle, which features improbable architecture and a comically tiny window for him to scowl through.

It would be remiss to talk about Babes in Toyland without discussing the music, of course. From the opening number of the show, "Toyland," the instantly nostalgic songs pull the audience into a magical world. The musical beats, sometimes in service to the plot and sometimes standing alone, reflect the gathering momentum as the piece careens towards its climax. "I Can't Do the Sum" is a terribly catchy - possibly too catchy - stand-alone number, "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp" sends the audience to Bogeyland to meet the musical's antagonists, and "March of the Toy Soldiers" sets the stage for the final confrontation with Barnaby and his minions.

There's some fantastic performances as well, with Danny Campos and Donald Danford channeling the spirit of the classic Laurel and Hardy film, Sarah Daniels lending her amazing voice to the character of Bo Peep, and David Spellman capturing the evil Barnaby with his hilariously mincing walk and strange vocal tics. As in any ensemble show, there's too many wonderful performances to mention them all; the cast as a whole is very strong.

Babes in Toyland will be performed at The Growing Stage, The Children's Theatre of New Jersey two times a week: Saturdays and Sundays at 4:00pm. The house opens 30 minutes before the start of the show. Saturday and Sunday prices are $28 for Adults, $18 for Children, and $22 for Seniors. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.growingstage.com or at the box office at 7 Ledgewood Avenue, Netcong NJ.

Photo Credit: Jerry Dalia

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