Thursday, January 27, 2011

Review: Freckleface Strawberry

No matter how many movies, television shows, books, and musicals teach children that it's OK to be different, bullies still exist. But maybe a few children will see the musical Freckleface Strawberry at New World Stages and think twice about making fun of someone else and for that the show should be applauded. The plot could be tighter, but the game cast keeps parents and children entertained in this adorable show.

Freckleface Strawberry is based on the book of the same name by actress Julianne Moore. Strawberry (Hayley Podschun) is a fun-loving girl with red hair and freckles. Her friends tease her and call her Freckleface Strawberry, so she tries to think of ways to get rid of her freckles. It's a simple concept and maybe book writers Gary Kupper and Rose Caiola felt the need to pad the show, so subplots are introduced, but never developed. For example, girly-girl Emily (Kimiko Glenn) sings the song "I Like Danny" about her crush. Although it is one of the more memorable songs in Kupper's score (due in large part to Glenn's performance), it seems strange to devote such a large song early on in the story to a secondary character. Featuring the minor characters works better in the ensemble numbers that don't highlight one specific character, such as "We Wanna Be Like Them," which realistically depicts how all kids, even the popular ones, are jealous of someone else.

Beowulf Boritt's set is cleverly designed to look like a book, with the pages turning to reveal new scenery. It is also a nice move to have the two-person band set up under a jungle gym. The show may be visually stimulating to younger children (Fabio Toblini and Holly Cain did the colorful costumes), but the many pop culture references would probably be best enjoyed by the pre-tween set.

Photo credit: Carol Rosegg

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