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Theater Review

Tom Titus

Perhaps you’ve known (or been) a kid for whom nothing ever seems to

work out right. In that case, you can emphasize with the title character

in “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”

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This full-scale musical, based on a children’s book by Judith Viorst,

who also contributed the lyrics, is the current Youth Theater production

at the Laguna Playhouse, and the theater has been forced to add an

additional performance since the show sold out well in advance of its

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two-weekend engagement.

They’ll need it, judging from Sunday’s matinee performance. Laguna’s

“Alexander” is a catchy, clever 90-minute musical that hones in on what

it’s like to be a youngster for whom nothing ever seems to go right.

From the persistent wake-up call in the morning, to a prizeless box of

cereal, to humiliation on the playground, a traumatic dentist’s

appointment, an embarrassing pair of new shoes and the application of

Murphy’s law at Dad’s office -- this just isn’t Alexander’s day.

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Fortunately for his audience, however, it’s ours.

Director Joe Lauderdale and musical director Peter Herz have fashioned

a sprightly, tuneful production with Shelly Markham’s music and Ellen

Prince’s choreography. With two adult performers (Pat Warren and Jay

Skovec) representing the grown-up world, the balance of the 13-member

cast is all kids -- and talented ones.

Alexander himself is played by the smallest cast member, Graham

Phillips, and this young man is quite capable of taking over a stage the

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size of Laguna’s. Without resorting to overindulgent gimmickry, Phillips

focuses on the anxiety-ridden preteen experience and the trauma kids

endure when nothing ever seems to go right and a move to Australia seems

the most attractive remedy.

Warren and Skovec richly portray Mom and Dad, as well as Alexander’s

teacher, dentist and shoe salesman. In the latter guise, Skovec pilots

the show-stopping number “Shoes,” as the store virtually becomes a

vaudeville stage for its star salesman. Warren’s maternal figure is

immediately likable, a bulwark against Alexander’s outside world.

Other young cast members show their skills splendidly. Brooklyn Day

excels in her school solo, “Lady, Lady,” while Erin Eskew, Noah Plomgren

and Taylor Ames also pitch in for some musical fun in the spotlight.

Older siblings Noelle Armstrong and Scott Andrews make Alexander’s life

predictably miserable while backup singers Rachel Gibbs, Hallie Mayer and

Chelsea Vann keep the pace brisk.

Similar to the “Peanuts” musicals “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”

and “Snoopy,” the Laguna show presents a fine, funny glimpse of

childhood. If you can wrangle a ticket for the second weekend, don’t miss

it -- and take your kids.

FYI

WHAT: “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”

WHERE: Youth Theater production, Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon

Road, Laguna Beach

WHEN: Closing performances tonight at 7:30; Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m.;

Sunday at 1 and 5 p.m.

COST: $14 to $17

PHONE: (949) 497-2787


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