Fantasy Playhouse is running the wonderful family play, Pinkalicious, at the VBC Playhouse through next weekend. This is the perfect theatre-for-young-audiences production–a fun show for the kids, which the adults will enjoy as well. If you have kids in the house, there isn’t a better use of your time this weekend or next, than to take them to this play.
Pinkalicious is based on the children’s book of the same name about a girl who loves the color pink so much that she only wants to eat pink food–especially cupcakes. After eating one too many sweets, she herself turns pink, and learns from the doctor that she has to eat green food if she wants to get back to normal. Pinkalicious eventually learns her lesson about eating a balanced diet, and all is well. The play, aside from adding music and dance, also includes a message about it being okay for boys to like pink as well. It’s a short kids’ book–maybe taking five minutes to finish–and the play is short as well, with a first act just over half an hour, and a second act just under, making this an absolutely perfect show for the younger, squirmy kids that never get to see a play (and trust me, the parents will enjoy the show as well).
Terrena Mann, as the director, nails this production. The action fills the stage, and it is entertaining at every turn. The characters are perfect, and the technical elements support the show with neat effects, making for a truly entertaining hour of theatre for all ages. The choreographer, Jessica Alexander, did a wonderful job matching the dances to the music, and creating fun stage pictures with the usual chorus of young dancers. Lea Hoppe, as the Vocal Director, did fine work–the singing is clear and beautiful. Some of these numbers are not easy, and there are several different styles of songs, but the cast is up to the task on all of them. Is this show perfect? No–there are little things here and there. For example, the chorus is almost inaudible at times, trying to compete with the leads and their body mics; and the choreography of the red cupcake dance is supposed to show that Pink’s life is taking a bad turn while she sleeps, but instead comes across as merely blah and uninteresting (especially compared to the very nice pink cupcake dance). But those are very little things in the course of the play, and the show is so entertaining and fun, that we are totally willing to let them slide. This really is a great evening of theatre for the whole family.
Meredith Johnson, as “Pinkalicious” is simply marvelous, and one cannot picture this part being played any other way, by any other actor. Her stage presence radiates out into the audience, and she has us in the palm of her hand throughout. She does a wonderful job of capturing the essence of a little girl who knows what she wants, but is old enough to learn a lesson, even if it’s the hard way. Matthew Richards Jr, playing her younger brother, “Peter”, is also amazing. He plays his part to perfection, hitting all the necessary character notes and levels for his character, as he deals with his own problems of being ignored when big sis has all the attention, and of having to hide his own love of the color pink. While this show is totally focused on the children, Lucas Kiker and Andrea Jernigan, as the father and mother, are likewise excellent. The children in the audience may only see them as forces that impact Pinkalicious and Peter, but there are humorous levels and comments in this show about the life of a parent, that the adults in the crowd will appreciate. The supporting cast and chorus likewise all do very nice work, with some excellent cameo moments, like Sammy Sledd as a bee, and Mary Kate Brooks as a bird.
The set design, by Tom Prohaska, is simple, yet perfect for this play. I can especially appreciate the design of some technical pieces, like a turntable and a “book” of scenery flats, which can so often be clunky and unwieldy, but which he made look easy. It’s a shame that only one page of the book can be turned at a time, but that is only really a problem in the unimportant rush to reset the stage for intermission. The costumes, by Elaine Hubbard, are the usual Fantasy Playhouse excellence. She captures each of the characters’ personalities with ease, and also gives us impressive flowers and wildlife. The lighting, designed by Cynthia Meyer, faced the huge challenge selecting lighting hues with extreme care, because pink is such a hard color to show onstage. There are few small times in special lighting when Pinkalicious’ pink clothes are closer to peach or orange, but that’s a minor issue, and overall, Meyer provides excellent support to this show, setting the stage and moods. Extra kudos to the spotlight operator for some of the best follow-spot work I’ve seen lately. Linda Atkins, responsible for the make-up, likewise had a challenge, turning the lead character’s skin various colors in very little time offstage. The initial pink skin tone is barely noticeable, and unfortunately, its paleness is emphasized by the hot pink costume sleeves covering Pinkalicious’ arms. That said, the pink gets more vibrant as the play progresses, and the rest of the costumes are excellent, with the the usual fine Fantasy Playhouse job on the wildlife–bees, birds, and butterflies, in this case. Rick Lighthall, as the chief of the Sound crew, does a very nice job balancing the mics for the leads, and with the music. A few of the sound effects have abrupt cut-offs, and the general inaudibility of the chorus has already been mentioned, but overall the amplification and sound cues for this show are well done, and ably support the production.
Overall, this is an excellent example of theatre-for-young-audiences. It’s a show the kids will love, and the parents will too. If you have kids in the house, whatever their age, or you are a kid at heart, you need to get to the VBC this weekend or next. Pinkalicious runs through Sunday, 16 October, with matinees on the weekends. Evening shows on Saturday and Sunday are earlier than normal, so make sure to click this link for ticket and show time information.
As a matter of full disclosure, one of my sons is in the chorus for this production, and I couldn’t be more proud of my dancing green food.
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