Vol. 12. No. 2
Fall 2002





My Hungarian visitors and their State Department escort told me they were theater connoisseurs. They had a free evening, I had a free evening, so I did the logical thing: I bought tickets to a Babcock Theatre production of You Can't Take It With You. "It's Kaufmann and Hart, an American classic," I assured them. When I told the distinguished-looking gentleman from the State Department that it was a student production, he looked suspect. "Trust me," I said. "I've never been disappointed with one of their plays." They trusted and the Babcock once again made me proud. The official escort dubbed it the liveliest performance of the comedy he had seen, and the Hungarians couldn't stop laughing. "They are only students? Such talent, such talent."

That's my Babcock Theatre-packed with talent and boundless energy and nary a disappointment. In the past 20 years I've missed very few performances at this intimate venue on the lower level of Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre. I love watching all that raw, young energy on stage. I keep an eye on my favorite actors, like Alexis Baigue, who always makes me smile, and Jeremy Riche, who has such a sure command of character. When they make their entrances, it's like watching old friends arrive. I also watch for new favorites, like the adorable Whit Hertford, who, though a student, convinced me he was 70 in his extraordinary turn as the grandfather in You Can't Take It With You. I've loved seeing classics, revisiting contemporary standards, and discovering more obscure works.

My all-time favorite Babcock production was Cabaret. It was sexy, bawdy, racy, and chilling, all on a set in the shape of a swastika. Sitting at the little cabaret tables with the action practically in your lap was like being in the center of the Kit Kat Club, without the booze. The cast may have been students, but the production was beyond professional. I still tell friends what they missed. They may see touring productions that wow them, but I can only sigh, "Ah, but you should have seen the Babcock production."

Yes, you should see the Babcock productions. With tickets priced at only $6, it's one of the best entertainment bargains on or off campus. Trust me.

—Mary Dickson is creative director at KUED-Channel 7.

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