With Glee and High School Musical both firmly established as blue-chip pop franchises, and teen stars like Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber dominating the charts, it’s no wonder why so many youngsters are discovering the joys of performing in musicals. For getting your act together as a young performer, nothing compares to the thrill of being part of a good production of a classic show. But as anyone who’s ever seen a middle school production of Sweeney Todd will attest, not every great show speaks to young performers, and a good fit of cast to material is often hard to achieve. With this in mind, Emmy Award-winning television writer and experienced teen musical director Cheri Steinkellner set out to fill a void by creating a new classic show, Hello! My Baby, that’s conceived for, and will be premiered by talented teens this weekend at Ventura’s Rubicon Theatre.
Finding a historical precedent for today’s youth interest in musicals and great songs, Hello! My Baby depicts young New Yorkers during the height of Tin Pan Alley. Young song-plugger Mickey McKee (Harrison Brian Fuchs) wants to write a hit like his idol Irving Berlin, but he can’t read music. When Mickey meets Nelly Gold (Juliette Goglia), a girl from the Lower East Side with a gift for composition, they collaborate on a song they believe will sell a million and bail out the Gold sisters’ tavern, which is being threatened by gangsters and urban renewal. Before long, Nelly learns that to prosper on Tin Pan Alley, it’s better to be a guy; she returns in disguise, and, as you can imagine, further complications ensue. Throughout it all, classic songs by the greatest writers of the era are heard in new arrangements by Georgia Stitt.
And that’s not all. Juliette Goglia, who many in the Santa Barbara theater community remember from this year’s Indy Awards, is an outstanding professional with an impressive list of credits. She was “Little Girl God” on CBS’s Joan of Arcadia for two seasons, and has appeared on Ugly Betty and Hannah Montana, as well as wrapping two movies. She and costar Harrison Brian Fuchs are sure to light up the Rubicon with the energy and excitement that only a new generation of stars can bring. Hello! My Baby premieres Friday, August 6 at the Rubicon Theatre Company (1006 E. Main St.) and runs through Saturday, August 15. Call 667-2900 or visit rubicontheatre.org.