Writer-director Kim Ehly’s "Baby GirL," now playing at Empire Stage, is a charming, semi-autobiographical piece about coming out and dealing with being an adopted child.
The plot of "Baby GirL" centers on Ashley, a young lesbian who has learned that she is adopted, and follows her through the struggle of finding and meeting her birth parents. Told in episodic flashes, "Baby GirL" moves quickly and is filled with a sly and gentle sense of humor, but at times the script seems unfinished and, by the end of the play, leaves the audience wanting something more.
The cast of "Baby GirL" is extremely charismatic. Lindsey Forgey, who plays the lead role of Ashley, is adorable and captivating. Her smile lights up the stage and she demands the attention of the audience at all times. Forgey brings to life Ehly’s heroine in such a way that the gentle humor of the script comes through perfectly.
Other standouts in the cast include Miki Edelman who manages to make each of her rapid character changes come to life and Noah Levine who handles seven roles throughout the evening. Sally Bondi provides memorable and distinct performances as both of the rather unpleasant mothers that exist in Ashley’s life.
Other members of the cast include David R. Gordon, Clay Cartland, Jessica Welch,and Nori Tecosky each in multiple roles throughout the course of the evening.
Ehly directs her script with a vision and a purpose that you don’t often see in writer/directors. She designed the costumes and also designed the sets along with the help of lighting designer, Nate Sykes. The combined effects of the technical design work well to transport the audience into the worlds and lives of the various characters Ashley encounters during the course of the play.
My biggest issuse with "Baby GirL" is that there were scenes that I found to be pointless and uninteresting and then there were characters I was very interested in that remained unexplored. On top of this, the big climactic scene didn’t have the right amount of buildup to it and the moment of crisis almost appeared to come out of nowhere.
While "Baby GirL" focuses on Ashley’s relationship with the women in her life, specifically her two mothers, I would have liked to have seen more about her biological brother and father and how her relationship with them developed.
The role of Ashley’s straight girlfriend, Sam, played by Jessica Welch, while expertly played by the actor, seems a bit out of place and pointless to the drama of the play.
Occasionally the sheer number of characters and the double casting of actors led to confusion. Asking eight actors to play 30 characters over the course of one performance is very difficult unless every single one of the characters can be made extremely unique. While this cast does a fantastic job of carrying the action of the play, I couldn’t help but feel that having a couple of extra actors to take on some of these roles would have made the production a little less confusing.
Overall, "Baby GirL" is charming and enjoyable. In this premiere production, the potential for greatness is apparent even if it isn’t completely realized at this stage. The sweet humor of the script combined with the charisma and high energy of the cast make for a very enjoyable evening of theater.
"Baby GirL" plays through August 5 at Empire Stage, 1140 N. Flagler Drive in Ft. Lauderdale. For info or tickets, call 954-678-1496 or visit www.empirestage.com.