Getting Near to Baby
Seattle Children’s Theatre brings Audrey Couloumbis’ charming and heartwarming book to life with Getting Near to Baby, written by Y York. Getting Near to Baby deals with a serious subject in a way that is both touching and funny. Willa Jo and Little Sister are sent to live with relatives while their family deals with the loss of an infant. Now, their Aunt Patty gets along better with her garden gnomes than little girls, though Uncle Hob has a sweet, understanding way about him. Together they navigate charm lessons, adventures with the neighbor kids (of whom Patty does not approve), and the ups and downs of the independent spirit. All this from a script that SCT Artistic Director Linda Hartzell calls “the best I have read in years.”
One of the best scripts I’ve read in years, Y York’s adaptation of this Newbery Honor book is a loving, poignant look at how we help build understanding between adults and children. It reminds us, through humor and warmth, that true kindness always trumps artificial politeness, and that the independent spirit, in adults and children, can be a struggle and joy at the same time." - SCT Artistic Director Linda Hartzell
In the North Carolina summer of 1967, tragedy strikes their family, so Willa Jo and Little Sister are sent to stay with their Aunt Patty and Uncle Hob while their mother tries to come to terms with their family’s loss. Now, Aunt Patty has more of a way with her garden gnomes than little girls, always concerned with the order and the rightness of a thing. This especially doesn’t sit well with Little Sister, who hasn’t said a word since her baby sister died, and plain refuses to let go of the drawing she carries with her everywhere. Luckily, Uncle Hob has a sweet, understanding way about him, and the neighbor kids, Lizzie and Isaac Fingers, are as nice as can be. Though Aunt Patty doesn’t think their family is proper enough, the girls think they’re mighty nice. And fun. And they have a cave to play in! Too bad the girls aren’t allowed.
As the days go by, Little Sister’s penchant for climbing things can’t be ignored. Aunt Patty is not fond of this—“she worries a frightful lot about the people she loves.” To help the girls gain a sense of order, and improve her standing with the Ladies’ Social League, Patty invites Lucy Wainwright, and her daughter Cynthia, over for tea. Cynthia is all shades of good and proper, on the surface, at least. Scratch that surface and you’ll see a horse of a different color. While the girls would rather spend time with the Lizzie and Isaac in their cave, Patty insists the girls take charm lessons from Lucy. With everyone’s pent-up hurt, secrets, and hard times weighing them down, it sure seems that charm is the last thing you can find around here. When Willa Jo finds a true friend in Lizzie, things start to feel like they’re easing toward normal again, at least a little.
Willa Jo finally gets a look at the drawing Little Sister is so keen on; a drawing of their baby sister in the clouds. Willa Jo now understands why Little Sister keeps climbing things—to help get near the baby, the girls take to the roof. Of course, this gives Aunt Patty half a heart attack. Much to her surprise, though, the compassion and kindness of the Fingers family help ease some of the tension. Once Patty, Hob, and the girls come to an understanding, and an end to those darn charm lessons, they can all get nearer to baby, and one step closer to fine.
For the second time this season, students from SCT’s Drama School will join the professional adult actors on stage; SCT typically only casts students when roles are particularly age-specific, as with the youngest Darling child in their recent production of Peter Pan. Catherine McCool will take on the role of Little Sister and Andrew Haggerty will tackle the role of Isaac Fingers, with Isabel Lang and Eric McIntosh understudying.
Joining the students are actors new and returning to SCT’s stage, including Anne Allgood, Amy Conant, Sylvie Davidson, Ellen McLain, Todd Jefferson Moore and Carol Roscoe. Jane May and Clark Sandford understudy.
The cast is joined by an experienced production team, including Set Designer Jennifer Lupton, Costume Designer Rose Pederson, Lighting Designer Rick Paulsen, SCT Resident Sound Designer Chris R. Walker and Dialect Coach Alyssa Keene.
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