July 11--In these days of Xbox and iPhones, there is something wonderfully refreshing about the Bucks County Playhouse production of "Really Rosie," a children's musical that celebrates the imaginative power of kids.
The show, the first children's show at the playhouse since it reopened last July, is based on a series of 1960s books by Maurice Sendak of "Where The Wild Things Are" fame, and features catchy music by Carole King, written shortly after her Grammy-winning "Tapestry" album.
The show originally was a half-hour 1975 animated television special that was expanded into an Off-Broadway show designed by Sendak in 1980.
As such, the musical feels somewhat rooted in childhoods past -- a more innocent time when children spent their summer days "playing pretend."
The main character is Rosie, played imperiously by Grace Capeless, who also appeared in Broadway's "A Christmas Story" last fall.
She re-creates Sendak's memorable illustrations with her oversized heels, feather boa and huge hat. She does the most singing of any of the 12 children in the cast and has a confident voice that projects well. The cast also includes three young actors from the Lehigh Valley.
Directed and choreographed by Tony Award-nominee Marcia Milgrom Dodge, the show re-creates -- sometimes word for word -- Sendak's books "The Sign on Rosie's Door," "Chicken Soup with Rice," "Alligators All Around," "One Was Johnny" and "Pierre."
The plot revolves around Rosie's desire to make "a romantic, horror movie" and has her auditioning friends for parts in the movie. The show gives all cast members opportunities to shine.
King's songs are fun, hummable and charming as done by the talented young cast, accompanied by a four-piece ensemble.
North Whitehall Township's Reese Diaz plays Pierre, the boy who always says "I don't care" and tries to ignore strong-willed Rosie's plans. In his song "Pierre," Diaz shows he can stand on his head and sing at the same time, before his character is convinced to have a more positive attitude.
The impish Oakes Fegley of Allentown plays Rosie's little brother Chicken Soup, who crawls away in a box before returning to join the other kids for the show's finale -- a kick line. August Fegley, also of Allentown, adds energy to the ensemble.
Other standouts are the strong-voiced Kevin Dolan as Johnny and Molly McQuoid as a slightly sinister Kathy.
The show is set in Brooklyn against a city apartment building with wash hanging outside and a fire escape. In the imaginative world of the children, an eggbeater becomes a camera and a spatula becomes a microphone.
Lots of creative touches enhance the show. In "Alligators All Around," an alphabet song, the children form the letters of the alphabet with their bodies. The children also use their bodies and various objects to create a giant alligator and a lion onstage. In another scene they humorously re-enact a scene from a silent movie.
This also is a show where the parents, who only appear as silhouettes and are voiced offstage by Christine Pedi, are the antagonists. Periodically they yell at the kids to come in and wonder aloud what could possibly be entertaining them.
The show runs about an hour with no intermission.
-- "Really Rosie," 11 a.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, and 2 p.m. Wednesdays, as well as 2 p.m. July 14 and 19, through July 21, Bucks County Playhouse, 70 S. Main St., New Hope. Tickets: $27.50. Info: ww.bcptheater.org, 215-862-2121.
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