“Kimberly Akimbo” is a beautiful, moving and hilarious new musical playing at the Booth Theatre on West 45th Street. It has an original and amazing book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire with incredible music by Jeanine Tesori. It is based on a play of the same name by Lindsay-Abaire. Every moment of this musical is absolutely mesmerizing and a joy to behold.
Lindsay-Abaire tells the story of a Bergen County, New Jersey high school teenager named Kimberly who has a rare disease which causes her to age rapidly. Though she is a teenager, her body and appearance are that of an elderly woman. While this is a major issue, which will cause her to die at a young age, this is not the only serious issue happening in her life. She comes from a completely dysfunctional family. Her parents, pregnant mother Patty and her alcoholic father Buddy, are a huge problem. Patty constantly lets Kimberly know that she is a disappointment. She nor Buddy show her any type of love or support. They argue all the time. Then add to that she has Debra who is a criminal and takes getting hers by any means necessary to another level, and you have more trouble than one teenage girl should have to handle.
Kimberly finds herself befriended by Seth, a student in her biology class. When they need to do a science research project on a disease, he asks if she will partner with him and they do a presentation on her illness. Awkward right? Kimberly has so many strange things happening in her life that you can’t blame her for deeply longing for normalcy. She deeply wishes to be part of a normal family and have a home-cooked meal. She also encounters four oddball students at her school—Delia, Martin, Teresa and Aaron—who are the unpopular kids. They are going through their own feelings of being ostracized by the popular kids and never getting invited to parties. They want to be seen as important and tend to bond together in their misery. The way all the elements of this musical come together is actually very funny and delightful. You will spend a good deal of time laughing very loudly.
This cast takes you on a marvelous journey of friendship, family relationships, disappointments, alcoholism, rejection, betrayal, self-discovery and criminal enterprises and does so with such unbridled energy you can’t help but be drawn in and captivated. The production is coming off a very successful Off-Broadway run and marvelously has mostly the cast who brilliantly originated these roles in tact including Victoria Clark as Kimberly, Justin Cooley making a phenomenal Broadway debut as Seth, Steven Boyer as Buddy, Alli Mauzey as Pattie, Bonnie Milligan as Debra, Olivia Elease Hardy as Delia, Fernell Hogan as Martin, and making her Broadway debut as well Nina White as Teresa. Another actor making an impressive Broadway debut is Michael Iskander who plays Aaron who was brought on for the Broadway cast. Everyone with this fantastic musical is magnificent to watch. There is delightful direction by Jessica Stone, engaging choreography by Danny Mefford and music direction by Chris Fenwick. All technical aspects work as well to add to the joy of this production and include scenic design by David Zinn, costume design by Sarah Laux, lighting design by Jeanette Ol-Suk Yew and sound design by Kai Harada.
This show will touch you on so many levels. Though the subject matter has very serious elements, it will inspire you in the end. Make plans to see “Kimberly Akimbo”—you will laugh and be moved!