It seems that every celebrity is writing, has written, or wants to write a children's book. Julianne Moore did and her book, Freckleface Strawberry was turned into a musical.
The musical was surprisingly delightful and substantial. Eventually, when we're adults, we come to realize that others don't necessarily have it better or easier or more than we do. Kids don't know that. And when they're teased, they don't think it's funny. The heroine in the story is a seven-year-old redhead who hates her freckles to the point where she is willing to wear a mask to school. "Do your freckles glow in the dark?" one friend taunts? Another teases, "Can I play connect the dots." She can give back as well, which makes her like other kids, but she is also smart and compassionate. When a ballet classmate confides that she has no friends, Strawberry thinks about which would be worse for her: having no friends or having friends who tease. She chooses the latter.
Some newcomers and Cabaret Children's Theatre veterans bring zest to the show. Francesca McGrory is a fresh of breath air in the title role. Ricky Altimirano, last seen as Discotheque in Beauty and the Beast plays the geeky Jake, and Lance Anthony, also in Beauty and the Beast as the movie loving prince, is the hunky dumb jock, Danny. Khallid Graham, Noellia Hernandez and Rene Ragan are just right as Harry, Emily and Strawberry's mother. Chelsea Pinero was graceful and credible as the ballerina who is imprisoned in her perfectionism. All the roles are played by adults, by the way.
My only problem with the book is that the kids are supposed be rather young elementary school kids. I only wish that playwrights Gary Kupper and Rose Caiola had bumped up Strawberry's age to middle school, when most kids become self-absorbed about their appearance. Moore supposedly wrote the book when her own young son was unhappy with his looks. The book and show could have incorporated various ages. The fact is that even people well into adulthood want to look better, younger and healthier. It's a variation of the same thing we went through when we were younger. It would be positive about being unique, as Connecticut children's author Allia Zobel Nolan did in her book, What I Like About Me!
The Cabaret Children's Theatre's production of Freckleface Strawberry: The Musical is a show every young child needs to see. It is playing Saturday and Sunday afternoons through March 30. Tickets are $18.00-$24.00. Call 203-576-1636 or visit dtcab.com.