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Smartly written 'Pinkalicious' works for kids of all ages

Donna Freedman

One of parenthood's great sacrifices is sitting through some pretty dismal entertainment: saccharine films, moralistic "children's theater," anything that features a singing dinosaur.

"Pinkalicious: The Musical," currently playing at Cyrano's, is an antidote to those eye-glazingly bad kiddie shows. Smartly written and briskly paced, it's good fun for all ages.

Not that it's particularly deep, mind you. Based on the wildly popular "Pinkalicious" children's books, it's a one-hour show about a little girl (Laurel Araki) who turns pink after eating too many pink cupcakes. Diagnosed with "pinkititis," she is faced with a horrifying cure (eating lots of green foods) and devastating long-term prognosis (she can never again eat pink food again).

Sound sappy? It isn't. The script is filled with nudge-winks designed to keep grown-ups awake. Upon learning that her daughter's illness is nutritional, Mrs. Pinkerton (Emily Yates) wails, "After all the money I've spent at the organic food co-op!"

Best friend Alison (Chelsea Rose Robinson) peppers Pinkalicious with questions about her new hue: "Did you buy it at the store? Was it on sale?" Meanwhile, big brother Peter (Mark Bautista) gets soulful with "I Got The Pink Blues," moaning, "It takes a strong boy to love the color pink."

Peter's dad won't let him love the color, which initially seems like gender stereotyping. However, we later learn that Mr. Pinkerton (Todd Glidewell) has a dark past -- a dark-pink past, in fact.

The script also takes a few jabs at modern life, such as the mother who's always multitasking and the father who uses a BlackBerry while his kids plead for attention.

Some of those jabs are played for laughs, such as the stressed-out mama who freezes in a yoga pose and gets carried offstage, arms and legs akimbo. Younger kids found that screamingly funny. They also howled at the father fainting dead away at the first sight of his pinkified daughter. Grownups falling down: That just never gets old.

Although there's no single standout song, the lyrics are droll. For example, pinkititis is "a cousin twice removed from gingivitis, with a touch of beri-beri in between." (One presumes that would be strawberi-beri, to enhance the pinkness.)

Robinson, Bautista and Araki absolutely nail the restless energy of childhood, moving with the sureness and fluidity of little people who spend most of their time on the run. Although Araki is delightful in the title role, Robinson deserves kudos for playing three roles (she's also the doctor and a pink fairy).

The role of Peter is tough since every "good" kid fades into the background compared with a strong-willed sibling. Yet Bautista holds his own, imbuing Peter with a mix of sweetness and frustration -- a mostly nice kid who sometimes yearns to smack the pink right off li'l sis.

For their parts, Glidewell and Yates embody the exhaustion of parenthood perfectly. They also produce nice chemistry as the mom and dad who have forgotten they are also husband and wife. We adults discern the shock of that rediscovery, but the authors wisely don't have them embrace or kiss because of the inevitable "eeewww" it would cause from younger viewers.

Not that this audience wasn't primed to adore the show. A nearly full house on Saturday afternoon seemed made up of parents, grandparents, and kids who've pretty much memorized the books.

Note: Pink cupcakes are for sale, along with pink wands. Bring cash.

Former Daily News feature writer Donna Freedman writes a personal finance column for MSN Money and blogs at donnafreedman.com.


By DONNA FREEDMAN
Special to the Daily News