Musical opens this weekend

Abby Stevens, Staff writer

“They call us babes in arms, but we are babes in armor,” is in the jaunty, upbeat title song of this year’s musical.

Babes in Arms by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart will have four shows this week beginning Thurs-day through Feb. 23 in the Taylor Little Theatre.

The production is directed by Brett Johnson, Ph.D., Director of the Theatre Program at Mercyhurst.

In this musical comedy, set in the 1950s, a group of plucky, young apprentices at the Surf and Sand Playhouse work every angle in order to put on their original revue at the end of a hard summer of building sets, rehearsing walkons and all the other behind-the-scenes work of the theater.

For the apprentices, the theater is their life.

Among their ranks include the comically precocious Terry Thompson (Abby Whitman), the aggressively enthusiastic Gus Field (Braden Rosciszewski), the cool composer Valentine White (Jacob Tretnik) and the determined but romantic Susie Ward (Monica Tinsley).

Putting on their revue means thwarting any number of people who get in their way – the nefarious, overbearing, partial owner of the playhouse, Seymour Fleming (Jakarri Buckner), a former child star and her overbearing mother (Tessa Sayre and Elizabeth Shewan, respectively) and a cartoonishly Southern playwright with an ego the size of Texas itself (Nick Humes).

It sounds like a formidable undertaking, but the apprentices are determined to make it happen.

“The stakes are high,” says Whitman when asked to describe the atmosphere of the play.

Less than a second later, Sayre adds that the whole thing is hilarious.

There you have it: Babes in Arms is a story in which everything seems to be at risk, but the atmosphere amidst all this tension is still extremely light and funny.

“It’s funny and entertaining and everyone has worked so hard,” says Mandi Schueren, who plays one of the apprentices.

Much like the apprentices of the Surf and Sand Playhouse themselves, the students of the Mercyhurst Theatre Program have been working tirelessly to produce this show since the middle of January, rehearsing almost every day of the week.

When asked why the members of the Mercyhurst community should come and see the show, Rosciszewski said, “It’s a wonderful, escapist show.”

Opinions on this are nearly unanimous.

“It’s a forget-yourself kind of show; a beautiful, cutesy, fluffy show,” Shewan said.

“It’s a chance to come and relax for a hundred minutes,” Shewan said.

With midterms rapidly approaching and stress levels for most students generally rising, a 100-or-so-minute escape from the anxieties of life might be a good antidote for anyone’s mid-semester woes.

The musical showcases the hard work of Mercyhurst students from 14 different majors.

The fact that it’s a hilarious musical comedy is just a bonus.

The show times for Babes in Arms are Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 23 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $6 for Mercyhurst students, $11 for seniors and $16 for adults.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at or from the box office in the lobby of the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.