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.”
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
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.
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
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.
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