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Durang's 'Bathwater' at MLT is a Farce With Plenty to Ponder

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: Entertainment | March 14, 2019 | The Tube City Almanac

John (Andrew Wolf) and Helen (Randi Ippolito) have a different approach to bringing up their baby as they adjust to their new roles as parents.


If you go...

"Baby With The Bathwater" by Christopher Durang
(This show contains adult language and subject matter)
March 15-24
McKeesport Little Theater, 1614 Coursin St.
Showtimes are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays
Tickets: Start at $10 each for groups of 10 or more; regular adult tickets, $15

More information: www.mckeesportlittletheater.com or (412) 673-1100


What happens when a child raised female by well-meaning, unprepared parents who were “too polite” to check the child’s actual gender grows up and becomes a parent himself?

It’s a predicament tackled in McKeesport Little Theater’s production of Christopher Durang’s “Baby with the Bathwater,” which premiered March 31, 1983. The comedy, full of farce and satire, provides audiences with plenty to ponder.

Directed by Dan J. Kirk and produced by Phillip Boatright, the show features a small cast, many who worked together previously, and some in multiple roles. It opens March 15 and runs weekends through March 24.

The audience first meets the baby, eventually named Daisy as a toddler, when parents Andrew Wolf as John and Randi Ippolito as his wife Helen bring their newborn home from the hospital.


The unnamed child is simply called Baby. While dad John thinks the baby is a boy, mom Helen maintains the doctors said the parents could decide later, and she eventually prevails in deciding the child is a girl.

Kirk, who has directed other shows at MLT and elsewhere, said the actors are portraying the parents as in their 30s, an adjustment because people are waiting longer to have children now than when the show was written.

This is Boatright’s first time producing, although he is actively involved in various aspects of community theater and will return to McKeesport Little Theater later in the season to produce “Steel Magnolias.”


“My daughter got me back into theater,” he said. While he was involved in productions during his college years, Boatright said there was no community theater where he lived. But after he relocated and then his daughter started acting, his old interests resurfaced.

Ippolito said she definitely was interested in portraying Helen when offered the part.

“After hitting puberty, every role has had to do with my sexuality,” she said. “I was married to 15 men, or seducing someone, or having an affair. This is a role where I do not have to think about being sexy.”


Instead, the new mom is overwhelmed by such thoughts as “Toilet training -- I can’t face it,” and prays for some much-needed help.

Her prayers are answered, sort of, when Johnna A. Pro arrives as the Nanny.

“I’ve been doing theater since high school,” Pro said. “I got away from it when in my 20s and came back in my 30s. I try to do at least one show a year.”

Pro explained her character “certainly is no Mary Poppins. This show is a commentary on relationships, on raising and being raised, and is very relevant.”


The cast of McKeesport Little Theater's production of "Baby With the Bathwater" includes (front row from left) Andrew Wolf as John, Scott Thompson as Daisy, and Randi Ippolito as Helen. In back are Kalee George as Cynthia/Principal/Susan, Johnna A. Pro as Nanny, and Eric Eleam as Kevin/Victor. CJ Nemit (not pictured) rounds out the cast as Angela/Miss Pringle.


Wolf said he’s known director Kirk since 2004 and decided to audition.

“Once I got the script, I thought, ‘This is going to be something different.’ “ Wolf said anyone seeing the show should “throw assumptions out the window.”

He said his biggest challenge in portraying John was finding a moment of truth to anchor his character amid all the absurdity.

The audience doesn’t meet Scott Thompson as Daisy until the second act, when the child is in high school. He’s introduced during a session with his therapist.

Thompson said he was not familiar with the play when he auditioned.

“He’s a messed up kid, sexually and mentally confused,” Thompson explained about Daisy discovering his masculinity and trying to understand why his parents raised him as a girl.


Eric Eleam has ties to others in the group from working with Pittsburgh Playwrights, as an assistant stage manager, and is looking forward to puppeteering and voice acting as he pursues his interest in theater.

He said director Kirk reached out to him and he was cast as Daisy’s therapist Victor, and Kevin.

Kalee George also plays multiple roles as Cynthia/Principal/Susan (Daisy’s wife).

She describes Cynthia as “very sweet, but very, very dumb,” who tries to steal the baby and gets hit by a bus, leading to even more complications in life for Daisy.


George switches gears as the principal, who is concerned about Daisy’s morbid essays, among other things.

“Daisy presents as female. He dresses as a female, and everyone in school thinks he is female. There’s so much damage done by the parents,” George said. “It’s very timely and brings up many gender questions. Audiences can come in with a blank slate and judge after.”

On a lighter note, George said the principal “constantly abuses her power – it’s so much fun.”

In George’s third role, she plays Susan, the woman Daisy settles down with after a long string of relationships.

Thompson said he has a long dialogue when Daisy meets with the therapist for the first time, “but I love the principal scene.”


As far as Daisy and his parents, they first interact onstage on his 30th birthday, in another scene Thompson enjoys where John is drunk and Daisy is wearing a kilt.

Rounding out the cast is C.J. Nemit as Angela/Miss Pringle.

This is Boatright’s first time producing, although he is actively involved in various aspects of community theater and will return to McKeesport Little Theater later in the season to produce “Steel Magnolias.”

“My daughter got me back into theater,” he said. While he was involved in productions during his college years, Boatright said there was no community theater where he lived. But after he relocated and his daughter started acting, he found himself needed for an onstage role in a production of “Arsenic and Old Lace.”


Bonnijean Cooney Adams is a former McKeesport Daily News editor. She may be reached at adamsclick@aol.com.

Originally published March 14, 2019.

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