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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

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In Arts & Entertainment

Niffer Clark, Gustavo Mellado and Karen Estrada with young actress Mallorey Wallace in "Pinkalicious the Musical."

"Pinkalicious" will have you tickled pink


It is absolutely clear that there is no such thing as "too much pink!"

Wait a minute here! Are you sure? Pink? Too much pink?

Those are the weighty issues of "Pinkalicious The Musical" that opened a month-long run at First Stage Theater at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.

There are no overly serious messages or issues in the musical which is aimed straight at little girls. "You can have too much of a good thing" and "you really should eat your vegetables" are about as serious as this gets.

But the play is a wonderfully delightful way to spend an hour with some little girl in your life.

I saw it opening night with my five-year old granddaughter Molly, who sat transfixed as Pinkalicious Pinkerton tried to deal with her gluttony for all things pink, including a passel of cupcakes that she gorged herself on.

"Papa," Molly said during intermission. "I don't think those cupcakes are real. You can tell she doesn't really eat them. But that's okay."

In a nutshell, that's why you go see this frothy exercise. Everything ends up okay.

The musical is based on the 2006 book by Elizabeth and Victoria Kann. It's a simple story about a girl who eats too many pink cupcakes and turns pink, coming down with a severe case of pinkititis. Her journey back to normal is the story.

The art of doing something like this production is to make the difficult seem simple. To take a score with some complicated singing and make it look like you are singing a lullaby to your baby before sleep.

Jamie Johns, a musical wizard in this city, made it all seem simple, even when you had three people on stage all singing different things.

"There was a lot of talent on that stage," he said during intermission.

The star of this show is Pinkalicious Pinkerton, played opening night by Mallorey Wallace, a seventh-grader who can dance and sing like a veteran. She's funny, tender, perplexed and doggedly certain all at once. No mean feat.

Her partner in her adventures is her brother Cole Winston, who is very worried that everyone seems to ignore him. A marvelously animated young man, he is building a lot of impressive credits in Milwaukee.

The adults in this play are the parental hummingbirds who fly around their flower of a daughter with humor, grace and just a tad bit of amazement. Gustavo Mellado plays the father with a dignity that will make every dad sympathize with him.

The mother is the amazing Nifer Clarke who has moved from sexy chanteuse in a Gilbert and Sullivan revue to a harried, dedicated mother of a girl who just pulls at mommy's apron strings a little too often.

Karen Estrada just about steals the show as Dr. Wink, who diagnoses the pinkatitis in her little patient. Estrada's dancing and singing are so funny that little kids in the audience squealed in delight and laughter.

The costumes by Alison Siple and sets by Jason Cole add color and flair for a young audience and the choreography by Jessica Redish is full of humor and delight.

All of this takes place under the gentle hand of John Maclay who directed the whole shebang.

Maclay is an interesting man. If he were a general at the Pentagon and was tasked with telling the president that a missile was headed our way, he'd have a bit of a smile and a chuckle or two to soften the blow. Humor is part of what he is.

And that genteel quality shows through in this production. He allows the show to take flights of fancy so that the little ones watching this feel comfortable suspending their little realities for an hour or so.

This production is another in an almost continuous line of performances that affirm what an amazing gift the children of Milwaukee receive from First Stage. How these children are touched was driven home when Molly held onto my finger as we walked to the car.

"Papa," she said. "Maybe I want to be an actor."

For more information about First Stage's production of "Pinkalicious the Musical," visit firststage.org.


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