Through Aug. 31
Adventure Theatre MTC
Glen Echo Park
7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, Md.
Through Aug. 10
4908 Auburn Avenue Bethesda, Md.
Was it the star’s pink pigtails? Or maybe the low sugar diets parents are pushing? Whatever the reason, the tiny theatergoers attending the high-energy, hour-long production of “Pinkalicious” at Adventure MTC on Saturday were a rapt, fidget-free audience.
Based on the children’s book series, the musical centers on heroine Pinkalicious Pinkerton (Carolyn Agan), a bratty little girl obsessed with all things pink: dresses, sweets, shoes, toys and flowers. After overdosing on pink cupcakes, she contracts pinkatitis and turns completely pink overnight. At first she couldn’t be happier, but when she begins to turn from pink to red, Pinkalicious takes her medicine — a diet of detestable “green food.” It’s a silly story, but the kids eat it up and the grownups occasionally laugh out loud along the way.
John Gregor’s zippy score, here performed by a committed cast in fine voice, features jazz, ragtime, gospel and blues. Agan hits all the high notes and convincingly nails the title character’s gradual plunge into the joys of moderation. John Sygar is a hoot as Pinkalicious’ pesky brother Peter whose love for pink is discouraged by their father because it’s a girl’s color. Sygar really sells “Peter’s Pink Blues” singing “My Daddy done told me that pink ain’t right for boys but all I want is a pile of magenta toys.” Jaysen Wright and Ashleigh King are reassuring as the sensible parents and Sarah Frances Williams is delightful as both the slightly kooky Dr. Wise and Pinkalicious’ best friend, Alison.
Under director Carl Menninger, the design team skillfully brings together a fantastic but accessible storybook world. The set, by out designer Collin Ranney, turns suburbia on its ear with trippy flowers, cotton candy walls, trap doors, cupcake stools and doily tables beneath a sky of white and pink chandeliers. Katie Touart’s costumes are charmingly ’50s-era TV land style.
For Blade readers with kids (and lo, there are many), some live theater may be just the thing to break up the dog days of summer. Local productions for young audiences increasingly boast high production values and top-notch casts featuring faces familiar from their work in grownup shows around town.
At Imagination Stage in Bethesda, young audiences find a benevolent giant leaning through the window of the Queen of England’s grand bedchamber, bidding good morning to her majesty. While her attending maid falls faint, the bejeweled monarch seems rather pleased to meet this towering oddity on a mission to save the world’s children. It’s an unorthodox royal presentation, but nothing is usual in “The BFG” (short for Big Friendly Giant) a play based on the book by famed children’s author Roald Dahl.
“The BFG” kicks off with the Big Friendly Giant (James Konicek) whisking young Sophie (Megan Graves) from a London orphanage to his home in the land of giants where though a bit unsettled, she’s altogether happier. The pair becomes fast friends, guzzling fizzy drinks, laughing and gaily whizzpopping (i.e. farting). The sweet giant catches dreams in jars and occasionally opens them for his young guest’s viewing pleasure. But Sophie encounters a bump in her new idyll: neighboring giants have a taste for human flesh. When Sophie learns that these hungry giants are heading to England to gobble boys and girls snatched from their boarding school beds, she and BFG head for Buckingham Palace to warn the Queen (hilariously assayed by Susan Lynskey).
Staged by Imagination Stage’s Kathryn Chase Bryer and puppet master Eric J. Van Wyk, the production uses impressive puppetry and imaginative storytelling to transport audiences to far-off places. Most of the cast (which includes Jon Hudson Odom, Matthew Schleigh, terrific out newcomer Austin Sargent and Maboud Ebrahimzadeh as the hale and hearty Queen of Sweden) double as puppeteers working enormous giants, window frames and magical jars. Concealed within the towering Giant puppet, actor Konicek controls its moveable mouth and beautifully voices his words in a sort of Cockney mixed with his own “wondercrump” lingo. It’s an awesome performance. And Graves — not a juvenile actor — is charmingly toothy and bespectacled as spunky, young Sophie.
Imagination Stage’s “The BFG” is captivating children’s fare, spooky but with lots of humor and a dose of sophistication — more than enough to keep accompanying adults interested.