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Red - a Crayon’s Musical
a Musical
CATEGORY : MUSICAL
by Ben Thorpe (book) and John Burke (songs)

COMPANY : Atlanta Musical Theatre Festival [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Brady Street Theater [WEBSITE]
ID# 5312

SHOWING : August 07, 2018 - August 07, 2018

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

A blue crayon, mislabeled as Red, is having a tough time. As hard as Red tries, his drawings look strange... and everyone is noticing. His mother and brother want to help, his teachers and coach push him in different directions, and his fellow crayon-students think he’s just plain weird. Red will try anything in order to be normal.

Then, Red makes a new friend who opens his eyes to the possibility that what others see as strange could possibly be what makes him special.

Based on Michael Hall’s children’s book, this family musical is about community, self-discovery, and being true to one’s self.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Jacob Demlow
Fuchsia/Silver Hannah Lake Chatham
Amber/Ms. Glue Hannah Marie Craton
Taupe/Gray Elliott Folds
Berry Abby Holland
Yellow Jacob Jones
Ms. Scarlet/Coach Scissors Brittani Minnieweather
Olive Gia Nappo
Red Trevor Perry
Green/Mr. Tape Juan Carlos Unzueta
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REVIEWS

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Red State or Blue State?
by playgoer
Wednesday, August 8, 2018
4.0
In the world of "Red - a Crayon’s Musical," each crayon is defined by the name on its wrapper. But when your wrapper says "red" and all your wax is blue, how are you supposed to cope in a world that expects you to conform to the expectations on your wrapper? The drawings you produce of red objects just aren’t right. How can you possibly make them right? That’s the dilemma of our hero, played by sweet-voiced Trevor Perry in a red sweatshirt over a blue T-shirt.

Red is a child in this story, surrounded by other crayon children - his eventually supportive brother Yellow (played by gawky Jacob Jones), the class bully Green (played by stocky Juan Carolos Unzueta), self-obsessed Amber (played by voluptuous Hannah Craton), ditzy Fuchsia (played by diminutive Hannah Lake), quiet taupe (played by curly-topped Elliot Folds), and supportive and equally ostracized Berry (played by sweet-faced Abby Holland). Adult characters are played by ethereal Gia Nappo as Red’s mother, by authoritative Brittani Minnieweather as teacher Ms. Scarlet and as Coach Scissors, by Mr. Folds and Ms. Lake doubling as Red’s grandparents, and by Mr. Unzueta and Ms. Craton doubling as the Sonny-and-Cher-inspired hippie couple of Mr. Tape and Ms. Glue. The actors provide neatly differentiated characterizations for the doubling, and costuming is appropriate all around for the color-inspired names.

The cast is highly talented; so talented, in fact, that I wonder what direction Jacob Demlow needed to provide for their performances more than giving them a one-word description of their character(s). Their infectious energy seems boundless, and they all inhabit their roles completely. Add in spectacular voices all around, and you have a show that seems close to running, let alone finding its legs.

This is a staged reading, so seven music stands are arranged at the front of the stage to allow actors to refer to their scripts. There are certain design elements for the production, though. A handmade sign with the show’s title hangs high on the back curtain, and drawings are frequently extracted from the script binders and displayed to the audience as the crayon’s drawings. There are even some props -- scissors, masking tape, a container of glue, and a couple of plastic plates. The finest design element, however, is in the upstage row of ten chairs in a spectrum of colors ranging from white on audience left to black on audience right. In a brilliantly subtle design choice, all the folding metal chairs are of the same design except the one in bright blue. It doesn’t quite fit in. Nice touch, right?

The musical is based on an existing children’s book, but the musical’s book writer, Ben Thorpe, takes some liberties with it. The verbally-challenged character of Taupe has been invented for the musical, and it’s a terrific invention that makes Elliot Folds an audience favorite. There’s a hint of incipient romance between him and Fuchsia, but it’s not solidified by him giving her back a ribbon she lost that he has found and danced with, and the relationship doesn’t go anywhere.

The show’s a little long for what’s intended to be an hour-long TYA (theatre for young audiences) production. The Tape/Glue Sonny/Cher sequence is where the production seems to stall a bit. Red’s wrapper has been torn and they come in, sing an extended song that seems aimed more at parents than children, and patch up the wrapper. What the audience is longing for is that they’ll remove the wrapper for repair and it will finally be noticed and acknowledged that Red is actually Blue. It could actually work to minimize the Tape and Glue characters and simply have Red remove his jacket to be handed to them for repair; the next scene shows intelligent, perceptive Berry asking Red to draw an ocean, and it would be appropriate for her to be the first to see the truth when the obfuscating wrapper is gone.

John Burke’s score for the show is mostly kiddie pop rock, backed by pre-recorded orchestral tracks heavy on acoustic guitar. There’s musical variety in the score, with bouncy melodies and power ballads interspersed with songs of more unique styles. The lyrics are full of near-rhymes (a singular rhymed with a plural, for instance) and sometimes seem almost stream-of-conscious in their lists of colors and rhymes. There’s a bit of a slap-dash quality in the lyrics that isn’t up to the level of the rest of the show.

With solid source material, entertaining performances, and blocking that adds lots of movement to what could be a static reading, "Red - a Crayon’s Musical" packs a lot of punch in the AMTF production. With a little tweaking, a fully staged TYA production (and maybe many more across the country) seems all but inevitable. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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