We will, we will rock you! - that's the anthem of the classic rock band Queen, but it's also one of several anthems in Parenting 101, the frisky, clever revue that has settled into the bottom floor of the Kimmel Center for a long run. But in Parenting 101, the song has a specific meaning.
A set of new parents sing it in a baby's bedroom. And it's 4 a.m.
Parenting 101 takes popular and show tunes of past decades and sets them to lyrics about family life. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" starts off the proceedings, in a hospital maternity ward: "Ohhh, God, where does the pain go?" belts the mom-to-be in the first line. And it takes off from there, in two acts that uncannily cover so many moments in child-rearing.
When I saw Parenting 101 two years ago, in a version its producers pulled before it could gain momentum here, I wondered whether its cocreators, sisters Susan and Nancy Holson, kept minute-by-minute family-life diaries, or whether they just have total recall.
On seeing it again, I vote for total recall, because if you are a parent or have been one, watching the constantly amusing show makes you begin to recall your own landmark parenting moments. (Some of them, frankly, I could have done without recalling; I laughed while at the show, but have been thinking with some regret about them in the last few days.)
Nancy Holson and Jay Falzone wrote the book and lyrics for the show, and some of the songs - how about "It's my potty and I'll try if I want to" - would be funny on paper, without being performed. Falzone also nicely choreographed the show.
This time, Parenting 101 is delivered by its four performers with the backup of a prerecorded band. This makes the music more lush, but it also drains some of the excitement you expect in a live revue - and challenges the performers by imposing a rigidity on musical pieces that are statements as much as songs. You can't make those points through music and still be in the moment with an audience, though, if the band-in-a-digital-box is already on to the next musical bar.
This is not to say that Craig Hanson, Nicole Nicastro, Patrice Seibel, and Stuart Williams are rote in their deliveries. All have fine voices, and are game to play parents and kids in a freewheeling fashion, though they do best when they rein it in a bit - particularly Williams, who has the annoying habit of looking past the audience, as if another audience sat behind the back wall.
The four are able to make you relive that time when you wanted to run onto the soccer field and scream at the coach, or run from the car and scream at the state for granting learners' permits at age 16. In retrospect, and particularly in the joyful telling of Parenting 101, it all goes by way too fast.
Through March 6 at Kimmel Center's Innovation Studio, Broad and Spruce Streets. Tickets: $35 and $47. Information: 215-731-3333 or www.kimmelcenter.org/broadway.EndText