"Of course I like your song, Mickey. Even Helen Forrest would love it!" Sound familiar? Everything about "Babes," a young teen musical at Theatre of Arts, is meant to evoke those MGM Rooney-Garland musicals, where a hit Broadway show evolves from a soda shop dream.
In that, the show succeeds. Bow ties, slicked-down hair, plaid skirts and sweaters; faithful Judy, glamour girl Lana, spoiler June, the big producer's son and big-talent Mickey; boogie, tap and torch numbers; young love spurned, young love returned--nothing is missing.
Nothing, that is, except the movie musical magic where every kid was a polished pro, Paul Whiteman led the orchestra, songs and dances could blossom into Busby Berkeley extravaganzas and nobody could beat Garland's voice or Rooney's timing.
"Babes" is more earthbound. Attractive teen-agers, the 18 cast members under Glenn Freeze's direction are undeniably troupers--even the tiny Theatre of Arts space, an airless, steamy shoebox of a theater, didn't dim those 100-watt smiles. These kids can dance (Julie Tea choreographed), some can sing and a few have real presence on stage--Stephanie Block as man-hunter Nancy and Damion Dietz as Doug, her target, shine in one of the show's best numbers, "Let's Get Lost."