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‘Maybe Baby’ brings true-to-life story to Modern’s stage

The Modern Theater stages “Maybe Baby” starting Friday. (Daniel D. Baumer)
The Modern Theater stages “Maybe Baby” starting Friday. (Daniel D. Baumer)

“Maybe Baby” started life as a one-act, two-person play, went through an extensive workshop process in staged readings and now hits the Modern Theater Coeur d’Alene’s stage as a fully formed production. Written by Matt Harget and directed by Hannah Paton, the show is a labor of love about the challenges of labor.

“It’s very funny and very true to life,” Paton said. “It has these moments that are very sweet and very warm. It’s this great series of really intimate, two-person scenes. … But it also has these fourth wall-breaking, almost stand-up comedy monologues directly to the audience that are just hilarious.”

Harget, who served as the Modern Coeur d’Alene’s playwright in residence in 2015, based much of the show’s content on his own life.

“It’s a work of fiction, but it’s inspired by a lot of things that happened to my wife and I when we tried to start a family,” Harget explained. “We were 39 when we got married, and there were some health issues, and we weren’t sure if we’d be able to have kids. As we talked with people, they had common experiences and we thought, ‘That’s funny, we went through that, too.’ ”

The couple at the center of “Maybe Baby” is George (Todd Jasmin) and Diana (Kristen Nauditt), who get married in their late 30s and who struggle with possible infertility when they decide to have a child. But life still has a few curveballs to throw at them, and Harget’s script concerns itself with the bittersweet complexities of adult life.

The show’s basic premise hasn’t changed much since it was a two-character, he said-she said domestic comedy. But upon expanding his script, Harget turned it into a five-person character piece: Additions to the play include George’s father (Gary Winterholler), his brother Chip (Brandon Montang) and a young barista (Aubree Peterson) who serves almost as George’s makeshift therapist.

Both Harget and Paton say the workshopping process that “Maybe Baby” went through was beneficial to the development of the play. The script would be performed in black box style, and audiences would make comments and suggestions about its content.

“The audiences would have great ideas about things that needed to be improved in the script,” Harget said. “A lot of the suggestions that were made ended up in the final draft.”

“Through the workshop process, I think all the characters found some depth,” Paton said. “During the first read-through, some of the characters were just accessories to George’s story, and now they’re full-fledged people.”

Harget and Paton say that their direct collaboration was also beneficial. As the show evolved over the past couple years, they’ve worked together to get Harget’s ideal vision of the material onto the stage.

“I was actually really nervous the first time we all got together for a read-through, because I’m directing with the playwright in the room,” Paton said. “But Matt is so open and so collaborative. … I’ve never had the experience of being able to call up the playwright and invite him to rehearsals, and that’s been so cool.”

“It’s community theater in the truest sense because it’s entirely created here locally,” Harget said. “I love watching Broadway shows, and it’s great that we have productions here of famous shows from back East. But after seeing ‘Oklahoma’ a thousand times, you might want to see something new.”

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