Wolrd Premiere Cast – 2016 / Music by Greg Borowsky & Douglas Lyons and lyrics by Douglas Lyons
Starring: Alex Newell, Shanice Williams, John Arthur Greene, Lilli Cooper, Katie Thompson, Alysha Deslorieux Talia Thiesfield, Gerard Canonico, Brittney Johnson, Julie Knitel, Sara King
Rate: 5 (from 1 to 10)
Review: This new musical is inspired by “the true events the Civil Rights pioneers Ruby Bridges and The Little Rock Nine”. According to the press release notes, it “follows 8-year-old Lily Polkadot who just moved to the “Squares Only” small town of Rockaway. As the first Polkadot in an all Square school, Lily faces an almost impossible task of gaining acceptance from her peers. From daily bullying, to segregated drinking fountains, Lily’s quest seems hopeless until she meets Sky, a shy Square boy whose curiosity for her unique polkadot skin blooms into an unexpected pal-ship. Polkadots serves as a colorful history lesson for children, reminding them that our differences make us awesome, not outcasts.”
As for the music, it reminds me of GLEE. The songs have the sound I associate with that television series and fans of it will surely love this new musical. As for me, I’m not a big fan of pop tunes, so I confess this one isn’t really for me.
One of the best songs, “Sticks and Stones”, could easily been part of a Motown recording and it’s sung with gusto by Alex Newell, who was part of the GLEE cast. Shanice Williams, the Dorothy of the recent television production of THE WIZ, beautifully delivers “One Pal”, a kind of Alan Menken emotional song. “Beautiful” is well sung by John Arthur Green of AMERICAN IDOL season 15, Lili Cooper has a good time with “Cool Kid” and so does Katie Thompson & Alysha Deslorieux with “The First”. I don’t like the rap “The Squadot”, but it’s very rare for me to like a rap song. There’s two bonus tracks, the beautiful “Taught” sung by Katie Thompson and a kind of Motown Christmas number, “Polkadot Christmas”, sung by Brittney Johnson.
Although this is hardly my kind of musical score, I prefer the traditional Broadway sound, it doesn’t hurt my ears and as pop musicals go, this one has melody and more than a couple of enjoyable songs.