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Bob Goepfert Reviews "Freckleface Strawberry” At Russell Sage College

TROY  - Sometimes a question is not a question.  Take this conversation for an instance:  “I’m going to take the two granddaughters to “Freckleface Strawberry” at Russell Sage College.  Do you want to come with us?   You might enjoy it.”

Enjoy “Freckleface Strawberry”?  It’s a musical adaptation of children’s book written by Julianne Moore – a movie star.  I’m a guy who thinks Brecht is too sentimental and Pinter tends to be lighthearted.   

I answered the question with wisdom.  “Of course, I’d love to go,” I lied.

And go I did and had a heck of a good time. And so did the kids.  I say this without lying. 

“The production which plays in the Schacht Fine Arts Center on the Sage campus through Sunday is a delightful experience.   It’s brisk, colorful and charming.  It’s offered in about an hour, which is perfect for the attention span of the youngsters and in truth is the perfect amount of time for the show to make its tender point.

That point is simply - enjoy being yourself.   The show created by Gary Kupper and Rose Caiola is filled with charming music that enhances several delightful skits.  But perhaps some song titles explain more than could a plot synopsis.   The titles are “Perfect,” “I Want to Be Like Them” “Be Yourself” and “I Can Be Anything.” 

Plus the songs “When You Got Friends” and “Happily Ever After” let you know about the feel-good elements within the show.

Clearly the moral of the show is applicable to both youngsters and adults and director David Baecker finds a way to make the show appealing to both segments of the audience.  The kids loved a lot of the foolish slapstick elements and enjoyed spontaneous participation of several tunes. They really related to high energy performances of the talented cast.  

Baecker wisely throws several nods to adults including some fun concerning the Godfather films and references to “The Phantom of the Opera.”   Really special is that the show uses the dult figures as caring people who are able to relate and take seriously the problems facing the kids.   Parents and teachers are sometimes shown as comic figures but never as caricatures.

As mentioned, the entire cast is terrific as individuals and especially good in forming a high-energy ensemble.  The theme of friendship is made especially valid by the performances which show a tight-knit union of seven who project warmth as they demonstrate the joy that comes from caring for others.

Director Baecker does a great job setting a fast pace and permitting moments that seem wonderfully improvised.  Special mention must go to choreographer Michael Whitney as the dance numbers are clever, varied and performed with a comfortable ease.  Indeed, the movement throughout the show is always organic and imaginative.   The work by Music Director Cookie Sears is also terrific as the almost 20 songs in the hour-long show never seemed forced, strained or rushed.

“Freckleface Strawberry” is a delightful and charming show that is a wonderful collaboration between young theater artists and their mentors.  Go with your family and share an enjoyable theater experience.  

“Freckleface Strawberry” plays at Russell Sage College until Sunday   Shows are 10 am on weekdays, 7:30 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets and information can be obtained at  518-244-2248 or go to theater.sage.edu

Bob Goepfert is theater reviewer for the Troy Record.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.