By Ed Kliszus
In The Trenches sounds like modes of battle in the First World War, or as H. G. Wells noted, the War to end all Wars. Is the transition from post-college single friendships to marriage and parenting sufficiently traumatic for comparison to slugging through mud-filled trenches in Belgium? We are perched from a safe distance to witness this life-changing shift from partying to parenting. Prepare for a
hilarious chaotic look at the propagation of the human species.
From Manhattan to Westchester
The musical is prompted by a Narrator who poetically and humorously centers the conversations and focuses on the travails of new parents. It’s about parents who traded in their Gucci shoes and Manhattan coop with Central Park views for jeans, sweatshirts, yoga pants, loafers, and a house near a Westchester train station. The “baby” wears stripes and looks a bit like Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Young singles look at their friends getting engaged or married with suspicion. After all, life before children is late nights at the cabaret or sports bar, impromptu trips for moonlight in Vermont, 1 a.m. jazz sets, sleepy Sundays, and brunch at Balthazar. They traded those things for raking leaves and shoveling snow in Westchester, weekends at Home Depot, and birthdays at Chuck E Cheese.
The songs emerge through a stream of consciousness hovering over a continuum of reality, denial, and transition from an adult-centered to child-centered life.
The Narrator announces, “we’re pregnant!” and the troupe launches into the first song, “We’re Pregnant,” and “while we’ll get going and power through,” no more booze and Monday Mimosas with single friends.
It’s time for “I Held My Baby,” birthing classes, breathe, vitamins, no alcohol or caffeine, no non-pasteurized foods, and no deli meats. It’s an “I Know How to Breathe” and “Power Through” reprise.
The Narrator coaches, “Life with an infant takes all shapes and speed, what’s life like in the trenches?”
Parents Get a Bad Rap
The five-member ensemble sings “Parents Get a Bad Rap,” “I’m not what you might call a passion pioneer, but I was the first to love you,” and “Getcha Dad Jokes Here,” sung by a mommy trio. “You’re Not Yourself, and I’m on The Shelf Since You Selfishly Decided to Create a Baby” – single girlfriends are left out.
The Narrator opines that those baby ways in the early days can lead to early gray.
“You can show off the top or show off the bottom,” “Give Me Yoga Pants, The Official Mom Uniform,” “Just The Two Of Us,” “I Know It Won’t, But I Wish It Would Go On Forever – Dad and Baby.”
The Narrator reminds us that they do grow up, they want what they can’t have and asks will how their parents keep them alive?
“Early on, I simply nap (the baby says). “I’m Off To The Races,” and the baby tap dances! And if one baby isn’t enough, it’s time for the “Second Child Blues.”
The Narrator comforts that parenting infants is exhausting and trying. A miracle happens, babies start sleeping.
So “We double date,” “Level Up,” and rock n’ roll.
The Narrator asks, What’s not relaxing with kids? actual vacations!
Goofy Daddy Jokes
A la Gilbert and Sullivan, “Vacations have become a tricky toddler travel travesty” (try saying that fast three times).
And now, “I want to be a cool dad,” but “Getcha Dad Jokes Here!” What do you call a fish wearing a bow tie? SoFishticated!
The Narrator wonders if this grown-up time could somehow be never-ending.
“The Child-free Life,” “Get Me Cargo Shorts,” “Mama Give Me the World,” “It’s Kindergarten Graduation!” and “Isn’t This How We Always Hoped It Would Be?”
Narrator, c’est la vie! We wish you best wishes, knowing these crazy days may be some of your best.
“Wherever You Go, I Go, let’s Go!”
Finale “It Won’t Be Easy, but It’s Worth the Time.”
It took a while, but in the end, it seemed that it was ok to have a child, in fact, maybe two.
It’s Fun but Goes By Quickly
In the Trenches is fun and one feels just a bit sorry to see young adults leave behind their single, childless lives. But they muddle through and discover that raising a family is rewarding, time is fleeting and precious, and your single friends will have to deal with you and your yoga pants, PTA meetings, trips to the mall, a barking lab, and dinner moved up from 10 pm to 5 pm.
Kristina Fuller (composer)
Graham Fuller (composer)
Marcos René Ospina
For 54 Below
Livestream Director: KJ Hardy
Creative & Programming Director: Jennifer Ashley Tepper
Lighting Director: Becky Morris
Sound Supervisor: Sarah Goodman
Executive Producers: Steve Baruch
254 W 54th St. Cellar, NYC 10019
Tickets & Info: (646) 476-3551
Readers may also enjoy other reviews like Natalie Douglas at Birdland, Billy Valentine, 54 Sings Broadway’s Greatest Hits, and Dianna Agron at Cafe Carlyle.