Vermont's Weston Playhouse Theatre Company

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

By: - Jun 23, 2013

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Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Book and Lyrics by Judith Viorst
Music by Shelly Markham
Directed by Tim Fort
Music Director Andrew Leslie Cooper

Scenic Designer, Renata Y. Brewington; Costume Designer, Angela Armijo; Lighting Designer, Devin Kinch; Props Designer Lisa Bledsoe; Stage Manager, Kelse Tippins, Assistant Stage Manager, Jessica Short; Additional Musical Staging by Spencer Kiely and Amanda Paige

Cast: Dan Reardon (Alexander), Clara Cox (Ensemble/Anthony/Becky), Claire Charland (Ensemble/Audrey/Philip), Spencer Kiely (Ensemble/Paul), Mickey Ryan (Ensemble/Nick/Albert), Amanda Paige (Ensemble/Mother/Mrs. Dickens); Conor Guzmán (Ensemble/Father/Dr. Fields/Shoe Salesman)

Weston Playhouse Theatre Company
Weston Playhouse, Weston, Vermont
June 20–July 7

Adults often imagine a child's life as one of carefree days filled with play and laughter. Ah, but is it really? Children have their disappointments and sometimes they have Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day documents just such a day in young Alexander's life. Even before he's out of bed he discovers that the huge wad of gum that he went to sleep chewing has become a gooey gob stuck in his hair. And that's just the first of his misfortunes. His best friend doesn't want to be best friends any longer, his teacher prefers Paul's drawing of a sailboat to his of an invisible castle. The shoe store doesn't have the striped shoes he wants and his mother buys plain white ones, which he refuses to wear. The dentist finds a cavity, his brothers tease him mercilessly, and he gets in trouble for playing with his father's copier when they visit him at work. There are lima beans for supper, kissing on TV, and at day's end the only clean pajamas are the railroad ones that he hates. There is no end to his trials.

Frustrated and desolate, several times during the day he vows to move to Australia.

Finally, Alexander's mother acknowledges his frustration and tells him that even people in Australia have bad days. She reminds him that he is able to start fresh each day and that maybe tomorrow will be better—a good lesson for children of all ages.

This winsome musical was adapted by Judith Viorst in 1998 from her award-winning book by the same name that was first published in 1972 with illustrations by Ray Cruz. The story resonates with adults and children alike who have all experienced such days of unrelenting adversities.

The production presented by the Weston Playhouse Theater Company in Weston Vermont is housed at their OtherStages at the Weston Rod & Gun Club. The audience is seated on three sides of the stage and is integrated into the performance as they are cued to repeat the long and descriptive title many times throughout the performance. They are helped along as the title flashes, one colorful word at a time, on the back wall of the minimal workshop-style set. Some of the children in the audience were delighted to be chosen to participate by reading letters commiserating with the unlucky Alexander and describing their own bad days.

Director Tim Fort has set a fast pace for his ensemble. The characters are strongly delineated and drawn with broad strokes, bringing to mind the two-dimensional aspect of the colorful children's book.

The cast, drawn from the Weston Playhouse Young Company, all play multiple roles, including inanimate objects such as a puckish office copier and elevator doors. In one particularly charming sequence they mime a sink, complete with faucets and water sounds, and a mirror, flawlessly copying Alexander's face washing, tooth-brushing morning movements.

Dan Reardon is a loveable Alexander, full of devilish antics as his playful nature emerges again and again, only to be crushed by the day's events.

Conor Guzmán, who plays Father, Dr. Fields, and the Shoe Salesman, seems to enjoy his three characters, giving each their own speech patterns and physicality. Amanda Paige's characters, Mother and Mrs. Dickens, are so well-drawn that I had to check the program to be certain that both were being played by the same person. Her closing number, Sweetest of Nights and the Finest of Days, was touching.

Each of the supporting actors shows versatility in characterization, as well as in song and dance. Claire Charland  as Audrey entertains with her rendition of Lady Lady. The dark humor of the number, Baby Sister, sung by Clara Cox as Becky, is a bright spot, as is, Lizzie Pitofsky, performed by Spencer Kiely as Alexander's former best friend, Paul.

The troupe integrates set and costume changes into the action, adding to the entertainment and keeping up the pace.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is appropriate for all ages.