JAMIE LEVINE’S SHOW REVIEW: Freckleface Strawberry: The Musical
Almost four years ago, when I was eight months-pregnant with Jayda, and still working as the children’s book buyer for Barnes&Noble.com, I was invited to a lunch with the actress Julianne Moore, who was promoting her soon-to-be-published first picture book, Freckleface Strawberry. As I hobbled into the restaurant on a cane (I was suffering from the intense pain of pregnancy-induced sciatica), with my bulging belly in plain view, Ms. Moore graciously greeted me and thanked me profusely for coming to meet her in my state—and then we bonded over lunch, sharing our pregnancy stories and her lovely anecdotes about motherhood.
This down-to-earth celebrity impressed me with her warmth—as well as with the premise of her delightful picture book, and I bought quite a few copies of it to promote on my site. So, when I was recently given the opportunity to take my daughter, Jayda, to see the new off-Broadway musical based on Moore’s Freckleface Strawberry book, I jumped at the chance. Both Jayda and I were rewarded with a thoroughly entertaining afternoon at the theater.
The star of the show is Hayley Podschun, who charmingly portrays Strawberry, a seven-year-old girl who is constantly teased by her schoolmates for having bright red hair and freckles. Hayley accurately captures the gawky self-consciousness of a young girl, and her opening song, “Look at Me,” will capture the heart of anyone who has ever felt different or inadequate as a child. The show follows Strawberry as she attempts to scrub away, bleach, and put make-up over her freckles—and finally resorts to hiding behind a ski mask. Along the way, she bonds with a seemingly-perfect ballerina, who admits to Strawberry that she has no friends, and delivers a message that nobody’s life is perfect—and we all have challenges to overcome. And with the help of her loveable schoolmates—a hunky jock, a loveable ditz, and two nerdy brains—who ultimately show Strawberry that they love her simply for who she is underneath the freckles and red hair, Strawberry learns that everyone is different—and that’s what makes everyone special!
Seventy-minutes long—the perfect length for my easily-distracted kid—and filled with inspiring songs like “I Can Be Anything” and “Be Yourself,” Freckleface Strawberry is both a lively, entertaining musical, and an encouraging boost to any kid’s self-confidence. I’m so happy Jayda and I were able to join Strawberry on her journey of self-discovery, as she learned to love the skin that she’s in, and highly recommend that everyone—with freckles or without!—does, too.
Freckleface Strawberry plays New World Stages/Stage 4 at 340 W. 50th Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. Ticket prices range $39-$68.50. Tickets are available at Telecharge.com or call (212) 239-6200 or visit the New World Stages box office. For more information, visit http://www.frecklefacethemusical.com./