This past Thursday took me to the Apple Hill Play House in Delmont, PA. Opening night had come for Ken Ludwig’s Be My Baby as performed by the Orchard Performing Arts Co. Haven’t heard of Delmont or don’t know how to get there? It really can be simple to find as you need only make one left off of Route 22 and you are there. To be honest, I used my GPS and that makes travel something simple and nothing to be concerned with. Hence, you can enjoy the ride to this out of the way venue.
For me, this marked my first time at the Apple Hill Play House and I did not know what to expect. Sure, I looked to their website, but nothing can prepare you for reality, but I can say that I found the atmosphere enjoyable. Like any opening night, the play opened to a full house and as always the energy of excitement raced through the air as everyone rushed about making final preparations and assuring that the guest were set and comfortable. To my surprise the playhouse has been created from a refurbished barn. Now, don’t let this fool you as you will be hard pressed to take notice as they have done a fine job in transforming the location, and in spite of it being August the place had more than sufficient cooling. Be assured that the theater has good seating, fine acoustics, proper lighting, and everything you should expect a small independent theater to have.
The lights went out and the actors took the stage as the show began. It brings a smile to my face as I think back on it now. You see, the opening scene had Maud Kinch, as played by the very experienced Shirley Ratner and Maude’s niece Gloria, as played by, Madison Nick sitting in two chairs, side by side, as they pretended to bounce as they drove an imaginary vehicle into the country. Their destination? The residence of John Campbell who gets played so very well by Dennis “Chip” Kerr. John has raised Christy, played by D Palyo, who makes his Apple Hill Playhouse debut. Christy and Gloria will be married kicking off a key underpinning of conflict.
As time pushes on, Gloria gives birth to the tragedy of a still born infant, but fate falls in their favor as a relative in faraway San Francisco has a child she must put up for adoption. Maude and John, who go together like oil and vinegar, decide that they will make the journey to retrieve the child for the young couple. They depart Scotland and the two mismatched characters are on their way.
The chemistry between the Maud and John unfolds perfectly upon the stage for these two veteran actors as they have worked together many times. This familiarity plays out well, as they provide great laughter for the audience as we are made to believe that somewhere amidst the differences are two people that care a great deal for each other.
Back in Scotland things are not going so well. The immaturity of the young couple poses problems. Gloria cannot settle down, and Christy plays the part of a rather boring individual who just cannot satisfy his new wife. Gloria leaves the audience to wonder of possible infidelities between her and her cousin whom we never meet. The two go out night after night, and although an odd relationship by American standards, Gloria professes that nothing scandalous has occurred and that everything about the relationship remains innocent.
Laughs abound as the two in San Francisco go about the effort of adopting the sweet child. Tragedy strikes Maude and John, but at last they return to Scotland, with twists of irony abound. The audience enjoyed the show and were captivated by the charm portrayed through Maude and John. Gloria provided the person to dislike and Christy played a character who falls short of expectations, but that without doubt had been the intent of the screen play.
In total the show Be My Baby as played out by all of the actors this past Thursday performed admirably and provided a realistic portrayal of the possibilities that can occur when different personalities come together unexpectedly. You will find the show a series of laughs that are shore to break the monotony of these waning days of summer. Some might be deterred by the distance to Delmont, but the drive goes quick and the actors efforts are indeed worth your while.
Be My Baby runs through August 29th. For more information, click here.
Performance Date: Thursday, August 20, 2015