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Kenneth Shaw’s Design Concept pops in PINKALICIOUS THE MUSICAL at Theatre of Youth

THE BASICS: PINKALICIOUS THE MUSICAL, for ages 4+ by Kann, Kann, and Gregor, presented by Theatre of Youth runs through Sunday, October 7, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Allendale Theatre, 203 Allen Street (near Elmwood). (884-4400). Runtime: A little over an hour with one intermission, but add time for the Q&A with actors after the show and optional photo op on stage with cast.

THUMBNAIL SKETCH:  Pinkalicious is a girl who lives with her very busy parents and her (somewhat) annoying younger brother Peter and she loves to eat pink cupcakes, to the point where one day she wakes up pink, from head to toe with “pinkititis,” curable only by switching to green foods (yuck!). The messages for kids are about self-control and keeping promises and the messages for parents are to create more family time and to avoid gender stereotypes.

THE PLAYERS, THE PLAY, AND THE PRODUCTION: Once again, 12-time Artie Award winning head of design (costumes, scenery) has gone above and beyond in what I’m told is a brand new production of PINKALICIOUS. Everything, from wigs to shoes, from props to costumes (and there are many, many quick costume changes), to a pink proscenium stage with three rotating rooms (kitchen, Pinkalicious’s room, and living room) is first rate. And, having built stairs myself, I was particularly impressed by the double curved stairs in the center.

There are just dozens of delights, including a bicycle built for four, a dancing hospital gurney, the bad dream cupcake ballet, and the 1920s Charleston and Lindy Hop dance number in the park with the butterfly, the bird, and the bee (who is appropriately attired in a black and yellow 1920s men’s swim suit). Nothing was overlooked, including a pink carpet in the Allentown Theatre lobby and pink balloons on the doors.

The music was by a fellow named John Gregor who collaborated on the lyrics with the original authors of Pinkalicious, sisters Victoria Kann (book author and illustrator) and Elizabeth Kann, M.D. (ook co-author) and without much experience in musical theater produced one catchy melody and lyric after another.

All too often musicals get into a melodic rut and can’t get out. That’s not the case here.

All too often musicals get into a melodic rut and can’t get out. That’s not the case here. In fact, as I listened to songs and the music, orchestration, and sound design by Chester Popiolkowski, I was making favorable comparisons to THE MAGIC FLUTE (especially during the cupcake pantomime).

And the lighting by Todd Proffit? Wonderful, almost another character on stage.

Of course, credit too must go to Director Kurt Guba and Vocal Director Keith Ersing.

All five actors on stage delivered. At Theatre of Youth, now in their 47th season, nothing is ever “dumbed down” and certainly there’s never a hint of condescension for the young audience. These folks give it their all. In alphabetical order they are Marta Aracelis as Mrs. Pinkerton (mom) who elicits a very believable concern tempered with love. Mike Benoit is the brother who is able to match the action with Pinkalicious (you might say that “he does everything she does, only backwards, in sneakers”).

Sabrina Kahwaty was stellar. No stranger to TOY, she has also recently appeared in a wide variety of dramatic roles in a wide variety of theaters in town and is certainly an actor to note when you are next making your theater plans.

Dominique Kempf also has great range and the ability to shine without stealing the scene. That ain’t easy, but she makes it look easy.

And while Kevin Kennedy is listed just as “Mr. Pinkerton,” he’s so much more. No spoilers here. You’ll just have to see for yourself.

It’s almost a cliché that at most plays and musicals audience members will say “the second act was better than the first” but, unfortunately, that wasn’t the case here. I’m not sure what’s wrong with Act II (announced as 20 minutes compared to 30 for the first act), but it’s a little slow and jerky and moralistic, especially compared to the whirlwind of Act I. Yes, Act II is the time to deliver the “messages” to the audience, but usually TOY never lets that slow things down. However, the 4+ crowd was totally involved, and one of the high points of Act II happened when Pinkalicious, who should be eating green things to cure her “Pinkititis” asks herself out loud “Should I eat this pink cupcake?” This audience, not schooled in the subtle concept of rhetorical questions, cannot contain themselves. “NO!” they all shout. I absolutely loved it.

UP NEXT: To build upon Artistic Director Meg Quinn’s notes by adding age recommendations and dates: “In NEW KID (9+, October 20 and 21 only) the characters learn acceptance, CHARLIE BROWN (3+, December 1-16) clarifies his meaning of Christmas, TUCK EVERLASTING (9+, February 2-10, 2019) tests fundamental thoughts about the meaning of life, THE JUNGE BOOK (6+, March 16 to April 7) challenges perceptions about one’s place in the world, and DRAGONS LOVE TACOS (4+, May 4 – June 1) is hilarity with a message of perseverance.”

Photos by Christy Francis

*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)

ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. A dreadful play, a highly flawed production, or both. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (i.e. you are the parent of someone who is in it), give this show a wide berth.

TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the production is pretty far off base, or the play itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to the theater, you might look around for something else.

THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good night at the theater. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.

FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.

FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare rating. Comedies that leave you weak with laughter, dramas that really touch the heart. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!

Written by Peter Hall

Peter Hall

Peter Hall continues trying to figure out how "it" all works. For over 20 years, as a producer and program host on WNED Classical (94.5 FM), he's conducted over 1,000 interviews with artists as he asks them to explain, in layman's terms, "what's the big picture here?" These days Peter can be heard regularly on Sunday afternoons from 1 to 5.

On “Theater Talk” (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO 88.7 FM) his favorite question of co-host Anthony Chase is simply "What's goin' on?" As mentioned recently in Buffalo Spree magazine, Peter's "Buffalo Rising reviews are the no-holds barred 'everyman's' take."

A member of Buffalo's Artie Awards Committee, Peter holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo. For over twenty-five years he was an adjunct professor for Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business.

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