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I'll start this off with two disclaimers.....or perhaps confessions:

1. Neither I nor my 7-year-old ever have read the best-selling Freckleface Strawberry books by Julianne Moore.
2. I'm ashamed that it took me this long to bring my daughter to see it.

In an age when tolerance, self-acceptance and respect for others are the most important themes for children and their parents, I should have been first in line to check out this timely, accessible musical and the books that inspired it. Not only is it perfect for a kid my daughter's age, it teaches valuable lessons in a fun, highly entertaining way. While my daughter may not be covered in freckles like the heroin of the story, every child has their own particular traits....physical or character....that make them feel like they can't fit in. I have a feeling that this will be a very popular thematic trend in children's theatre for the next few years, and in my opinion, Freckleface Strawberry does it right.

The show is appealing to both parents and kids, although it will be most enjoyed by five through ten-year-olds. Parents will respond to (and appreciate) the show's anti-bullying message while kids will recognize themselves in the archetypal, seven-year-old characters and their modern references. (My daughter and her friend perked up at the mention of things like Facebook, Lady Ga-Ga and Spongebob, and approved of the presence of a pink Razor scooter and skirts with leggings). Parents had a private chuckle at a few moments including a subtle salute to the Godfather movies, the passing plight of a little boy who prefers to hang out with the girls and a middle-aged teacher who nearly throws her back out trying to inspire her class. Meanwhile, the kids were thrilled to hear the words "poop" and "stupid" on stage....twice.

But everyone will respond to the greater lesson: That we all feel pressure to be perfect, and nobody ever really is. That everyone, no matter how surrounded by friends they may seem, often feels lonely. We all share a common experience and in that way, we are never truly alone. But when someone takes advantage of those feelings, even at the age of seven, it causes someone else real pain.

The finale song, "Happily Ever After", reminded me of my latest favorite tune, "It Gets Better" which was recorded by a group of Broadway stars with proceeds going to the Trevor Project. Freckleface Strawberry shows us the early beginnings of bully behavior and we are reminded, as adults, of where that can ultimately lead. My daughter and her friend loved the show, and I doubt that they even realize how much they learned.

• A positive and desperately needed message about self-acceptance and tolerance for others.
• Runs just over an hour.
• Best for ages five through ten.
• Funny and entertaining for both parents and kids.
• Wednesday @ 2pm and 7pm, Thursday & Friday @ 7pm, Saturday @ 11am, 2pm & 4:30 pm, Sunday at 12:00pm and 3:00 pm.
• Check the web site for the Holiday Performance schedule:
• Tickets are $39 to $69.
• They say "stupid" and "poop". Twice.

Photos by Carol Rosegg

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