Monday, December 6, 2021

Weekly Margin 2021, W49: Kimberly Akimbo, A Christmas Carol, The System

12/02/21: Kimberly Akimbo
What: Atlantic Theater presents a new musical adaptation of David Lindsay-Abaire's play of the same name (adapted by Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori), about a teenage girl with a disease that causes her to age rapidly, making her appear in her seventies.
And? I loved this so much. So very very much. I need to read the play it's based on, to see how much it's changed in the rewrite. I need a cast album to be recorded. I need this to have a longer run. I have a lot of needs, y'all. This show could have been cloying, it could have been bitter, it could have been a manipulative tearfest. It is none of those things. It is cute without being twee, sweet without being sentimental, funny without being dishonest, and moving without being demoralizing. Looking at the cast list for the play, I see that the musical cast has expanded to include four of Kimberly's classmates (who, as members of showchoir, are a very willing and delightfully able backup group for songs). DLA's characters are all a bit off-center, in a delightful (and appropriately frustrating) way. Kimberly's parents are disappointments and often say the wrong thing, but at the core there is still love. Even her opportunist aunt (my god, can we just have Bonnie Milligan in everything? Her comic timing and her belt are a gift we need more of) has affection beneath her scheming. And Kimberly's growing friendship with Seth feels honest and earned. We watch the show knowing Kimberly's life has a ticking clock and that it will soon run out, but somehow the show doesn't leave us in despair, but rather in hope that we too can pursue happiness with the time we have. Oh and somehow I skipped over this but the entire cast is TO DIE FOR good, and especially especially Victoria Clark as Kimberly, whom you never doubt is a teenager, who breaks and wins your heart, whom you just want to be happy. Dear Theater Gods, a commercial transfer and a cast album, pretty pretty please and thank you?

Victoria Clark as Kimberly. Photo by Ahron R. Foster.

What: Merchant House's annual one man reading of Dickens's classic story, performed by John Kevin Jones.
And? Some may recall that I saw four or five online productions of A Christmas Carol last December. This was my favorite of the lot, so I was so excited to get to see it live this year. It's truly a special experience. You arrive at the Merchant's House Museum and walk through to the back garden for a cup of mulled wine or hot cider. Jones greets you, recites a poem, then leads you back inside to the parlor for his reading of A Christmas Carol. Up close you can see not only his joy but also his absolute and present empathy for every character he portrays. Worth every moment in that (unfortunately) extremely uncomfortable chair.

John Kevin Jones in A Christmas Carol. Photo source.

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