A star rating of 3 out of 5.

Blending bantering teenagers, melodramatic subplots, and a bolshy female lead with a heart of gold, it’s hard not to come away from Babies likening it to a musical episode of Tracy Beaker – except they don’t stop at "Bog off".

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The new coming-of-age comedy, conceived by Jack Godfrey and Martha Geelan, opened this week at The Other Palace Theatre, a venue best known for being the UK birthplace of another teen musical: Heathers.

Sadly, Babies doesn’t quite share the same magnetism of its predecessor, but it still manages to be a fun and feel-good romp with a scarily accurate insight into the lives of 15-year-olds.

The premise is a quirky but simple one: nine Year 11 kids are each tasked with taking care of a fake baby for the purposes of sex education. Within the troop, you have a range of different personalities and cliques befitting of any secondary school story: there’s the try-hard student determined to ace every test, the Instagram girlie resolute on maintaining her perfect peachy bubble, and the group of misfit besties who let secrets and outside issues infiltrate their friendship.

As they attempt to love and take care of their plastic progeny, the teens end up learning far more about themselves and each other than they do about nappy changing.

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Let’s start with the show’s biggest plus: the songs are absolutely electric and as infectious as a round of child chicken pox. If you’re a fan of a pop-rock musical, the Babies album will definitely be featuring on your Spotify Wrapped at the end of the year. Highlights include the opening song Baby Baby Baby – which perfectly manages to straddle the task of getting the blood pumping while expositing the plot – and Hot Dad – a heartthrob number that wouldn’t be out of place on the first One Direction album.

To back up the stellar soundtrack is Alexzandra Sarmiento’s pristine choreography, and the fact that every cast member keeps the energy at 100 throughout. Without their obvious relishing of the show and its joyful tone, it just wouldn’t work.

Four actors from Babies the musical standing and singing on a desk
Babies. Matt Crockett

Yet while the overall feel of Babies is CBBC levels of fun, what it also does well is zoom right into the lives of Year 11 students and the struggles they go through. What some adults in the audience may have forgotten is that this is an age where you live and die by your GCSE results and every single piece of messaging funnelled your way is centred around those terrifying two words: "Your future."

It perfectly conveys the pressure we put on teens to act and think like adults before they have any real sense of the outside world, while also going into the ways we put pressure on parents to be faultless.

Throughout the show, we see a million microcosms of the ways parenting can go wrong. From the try-hard student expecting perfection from her child, to the Instagram girlie experiencing serious mum guilt, plus, the fact that some people just don’t want kids at all. Ultimately, whatever stage of life you’re at, you’ll find that there’s at least something in Babies you can relate to.

But this leads me onto the question, who is Babies actually for? Based on the peppy songs and Jacqueline Wilson-style storyline, I would have said this show is designed for a tween audience, but there’s plenty of swearing and a few sexual references that might make some parents uncomfortable. If it’s for older teens, might they not be looking for something a bit more grungy or serious to fit their journey into adulthood? And if it’s for adults, I think the plot may either be seen as too juvenile or too PTSD-inducing for those of us who haven’t quite got over their need for teacher affirmation.

In its attempts to juggle upbeat songs, deep themes, and multiple storylines, Babies falls into the trap of trying to do too much in too little time, and forgoes some of the most interesting characters for moral messaging.

Yes, every role gets their moment, but characters like Ashley Goh's Alex, Lucy Carter's Lulu and Bradley Riches' (of Heartstopper fame) Toby are stand-outs, and sadly they don’t get given anywhere near enough centre-stage time for us to appreciate them.

If Babies wants to earn Heather-status as a teen musical for the ages, it perhaps needs to just take a look at what it’s trying to say, and who it’s trying to say it for.

But, what can’t be denied is that the show left me with a smile on my face and certainly a lot to think about. So, Babies we’re ready for ya!

Buy Babies tickets at TodayTix

For more reviews, take a look at the Going Out section. We've got a review of Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder! Plus Witness for the Prosecution.

When and where can I see Babies?

A still from Babies the musical showing a girl singing
Babies. Matt Crockett

Babies is playing at The Other Palace for just six weeks until 14th July with shows every Tuesday to Sunday.
If you're new to the venue, The Other Palace sits just a short walk from Victoria station, which means you can get there on the Victoria or Circle and District lines, or by train on Southeastern, Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express services.

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How to get Babies tickets

Tickets are on sale now at TodayTix, starting from £18. As a note, the venue is fairly small so you get a decent view from pretty much any seat.

Buy Babies tickets at TodayTix

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For more news and reviews, here's how to get Your Lie in April tickets and how to see the Friends Experience London. Plus, what to do in London this weekend and the best open air theatre shows.

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