Christina Wright

First Stage’s “Pinkalicious” colorful and charming

Lessons about eating veggies and gender stereotyping come wrapped in a sugar-sweet musical coating.

By - Feb 25th, 2013 12:47 am
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Adult actors Niffer Clark, Gustavo Mellado and Karen Estrada with young performer Mallorey Wallace in “Pinkalicious.” Photos courtesy First Stage.

Have you ever witnessed a child in the throes of a sugar high, bouncing off the walls and running to and fro? First Stage Children’s Theater’s latest delight Pinkalicious deals with the most insane sugar rush of all time, and even packs in some life lessons that don’t need a spoonful of the sweet stuff to get down.

The musical, adapted from Victoria and Elizabeth Kann’s bestselling children’s book of the same name, opens with a young girl, Pinkalicious Pinkerton, singing about her obsession with all things pink – especially pink cupcakes. Her parents are busy on their smartphones, barely noticing their son Peter, as they try to multitask making business deals while pleading with Pinkalicious to go to bed. The little girl reluctantly retreats to her pink canopied bed with two more cupcakes that she’s smuggled from the kitchen. And with that Pinkalicious discovers that there is such a thing as too much of her beloved florid hue, transforming overnight into a punch-colored confection complete with neon pink hair. Mr. and Mrs. Pinkerton and Peter are shocked the next morning when they see the magenta mademoiselle, rushing her to Dr. Wink who prescribes a strict diet of green veggies.

Mallorey Wallace charms as Pinkalicious Pinkerton in First Stage’s “Pinkalicious.”

These kids are real professionals–First Stage has taught them well. Mallorey Wallace played Pinkalicious Saturday afternoon (she is double-cast with Gaby Musickant in the role) and she does so expertly, with a gift for working the audience. “Where are the rest of the cupcakes?” she asks aloud while scavenging in the kitchen for more pink treats. A chorus of adorable voices responds: “On top of the fridge!” “Should I eat them all?” she asks. “Yes!” “No!” “You’ll be sick!” The adults’ hearts’ melt with each response. It’s mostly little girls in the audience, many donning tiaras and tutus and cupcake-topped wands.

Cole Winston is the underappreciated Peter (double-cast with Austin Winter) and he’s perfect as an awkward and likable preteen. He really shines while singing the number “Pink Blues”and he adds an unexpected bit of comic relief throughout the show. It’s great to see him play the loving big brother to Pinkalicious, encouraging her to eat her greens.

Niffer Clarke and Gustavo Mellado are the workaholic Pinkertons and Karen Estrada plays Dr. Wink. Estrada is definitely the highlight amongst the trio of adult actors. She’s energetic and funny as she dances across the stage with a fluffy white boa for the jazzy tune “Pinkatitis.”

First Stage nails it again with the set and costume design. The backdrop is a colorful moveable mural that could work as an illustration in the book itself. Pinkalicious’ bed elicits oohs and ahhs as it is rolled out onto the stage–it’s even got a secret compartment where a stagehand hides with Wallace’s change of wigs and dresses. The dance ensemble twirls in life-size cupcake costumes and Mrs. Pinkerton’s beautiful ball gown is red carpet-worthy.

This isn’t just a silly play about the color pink. It’s a warning against socializing girls and boys to prefer a certain hue within the rainbow. It’s a way to tell kids to eat their vegetables. And it’s a play about a dysfunctional family that finally comes together and learns to enjoy one another. That final sentiment is shared in the show’s concluding number–the entire cast sings that “pink is love, pink is joy, pink is fun.” Yes, yes it is.

Pinkalicious runs through March 24 at the Todd Wehr Theatre, and tickets range from $12 to $32. To order, call (414) 267-2961 or use the online box office.

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