BRUNSWICK – The Bowdoin College department of theater and dance will present “Babes in Arms” with book, lyrics and music by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 24, 25 and 26.

The 8 p.m. performances in Pickard Theater are free and open to the public. General admission tickets are available at the David Saul Smith Union information desk, by calling 725-3375 and at the door.

This production of “Babes in Arms” is based on the original 1937 theatrical musical. Set in rural Long Island during the Great Depression, the fanciful story involves a group of teenagers whose vaudevillian parents have gone off on a tour, leaving the kids behind to fend for themselves. They decide to put on their own show to avoid being sent to the work farm by the local sheriff, originating the phrase, “I’ve got a barn, let’s put on a show.”

The show features such popular American songs as “My Funny Valentine,” “The Lady Is A Tramp,” “Where or When” and “Johnny One-Note.” But few people know their context because for many years the original show was not available.

In 1939, a movie of “Babes in Arms” was made starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, but most of the songs were cut and the plot completely changed. In 1959, the stage version was rewritten and re-orchestrated by George Oppenheimer. Much of the original work was again thrown out. This was the only version available for decades.

In 1998, the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music recovered the Hans Spewak orchestrations, removed some racial references offensive by modern standards and presented the script that Rodgers and Hart had planned. It was the first 1937 Broadway version of “Babes in Arms” seen after an absence of 60 years.

The City Center Encore Series in New York took it one step further and hired playwright John Guare as a script consultant, presenting the show for five performances in 1999 and earning a rave review from Ben Brantley and The New York Times. It received the blessing of the authors’ estate. It is this original “Guare version” of the 1937 show that will be presented at Bowdoin College.


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