Alexander had a terrible, no good, horrible, very bad day

Alexandar and most of the first-rate cast in the opening scene. Photo Credit: Bruce Douglas

For anyone who’s ever had a bad day, whether you are four years old or 74 years old, this one’s for you. Adventure Theatre’s production of Judith Viorst’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day, can take your bad day and put it into perspective in 60 short minutes. And there’s nothing better than “bad” in kid perspective to shift a grouchy adult mood, let’s be honest. With a script written almost more for parents than the kids, much to my delight, the new musical at Adventure Theatre will have you in stitches from the opening scene to the very end.

The musical performance is led by Parker Drown (2010 Helen Hayes Award Recipient for Outstanding Lead Actor, Resident Musical), who stars as Alexander, complete with his bright red hair. But his supporting cast is equally as strong, ebullient and charming with their hilarious shenanigans. Honestly, as someone who has a regular running joke with her younger sister that she needs to desperately go get a new face, they had me hooked when that was one of the first things Alexander’s brothers said about him in the opening scenes. Call  me Beavis or Butthead, but I love that sort of snarky, bratty sibling behavior, and it’s woven throughout this delightful musical.

I am embarrassed to admit that we don’t actually have this book chez moi but I certainly plan to go out and purchase it now. If you are Alexander-illiterate, as was I, then you can easily gather that Alexander’s day starts off lousy and the misery builds from there.  The charm of the musical is the way the adult-actors realistically portray what makes for a bad kid day. Starting his day off with gum in his hair, forgetting to draw a picture for school and then his mother failing to pack desert in his lunch are just some of the reasons the day is bad, early on, in the horrible, no good day. The desert scene was one of my favorites. While all his friends are enjoying their sweet treats lovingly packed by their parents, Alexander is pouting, and his mother is wheeled in carrying an enormous banana split, taunting him.

Love it.

Now what could take a bad day and make it worse?

One of my favorite scenes: Alexander and the dreaded Dentist. Photo Credit: Bruce Douglas

The dentist, of course! And in this production, it’s like watching a scene out of Little Shop of Horrors, with the thick-German accented plunger-yielding Dentist, naturally.  The elaborate kid-imagination that this cast brings to life on stage is entertaining and top rate. Honestly, Adventure Theatre is a gem that we are so lucky to have access to with our kids.

Directed by Gail Humphries with music by Shelly Markham, this production is the fourth production of Adventure Theatre’s 2011-2012 60th Anniversary Season. Tickets are $18 each. The performance opened just this weekend and runs until April 9th. Given that it’s such a delightful way to spend an hour, I’m guessing it’s safe to assume the tickets will go fast, so I wouldn’t waste any time. Frankly, I’m tempted to see it again. Adventure Theatre recommends this play for children ages 4 and up. I did bring my three-year-old, to an evening performance at that, and she loved it – but it is a little bit longer than most other Adventure Theatre productions, so keep that in mind when making your decision.

Also, be sure to bring some gently used or new shoes when you go to the show.  Adventure Theatre’s Community Engagement projects continue in partnership with Changing the World one pair at a time. For the duration of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, bring your new or gently used sneakers to Adventure Theatre’s lobby to benefit, a national program that ships new or gently used shoes to people all over the world who need them- (including Australia)!

Disclosure: Adventure Theatre invited me to the final dress rehearsal of this performance. It was a treat to see it on the eve of opening night, without a doubt. The opinions here are all my own.

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