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In a bubble of cheer, ‘The Day You Start’ debuts at Kennedy Heart


The Day You Start, a brand new musical directed by Charlotte Brathwaite and based mostly on the image e-book of the identical title by Kennedy Heart Schooling Artist-in-Residence Jacqueline Woodson, made its debut this weekend on the Kennedy Heart’s Household Theater. Just like the e-book, the musical is massive on empowerment and inclusivity. And for this musical model (billed as “A Play with A number of Music”), what it lacks in narrative plot, it makes up in an atmospheric bubble of positivity and acceptance.

Noah Virgile, Audrey Hailes, Ashley D. Nguyen, and Carla Duren in ‘The Day You Start.’ Photograph by Teresa Wooden.

The set, a classroom that’s seen upon coming into the theater, is inviting, enjoyable, and cheerful. Even earlier than we meet the classroom’s trainer Ms. Veve, performed by the bubbling Audrey Hailes, the set makes clear it’s a spot the place any little one or grownup would need to spend their time. Scenic Designer Jian Jung and Props Designer Sam Bay clearly did their analysis and it paid off in droves.

The musical intersperses interactivity all through, however particularly in the beginning when Ms. Veve warms up the viewers by celebrating and shouting out the singers, dancers, academics, basketball gamers, and so on. within the viewers. The tone and theme are thus communicated straight away: we’re all distinctive and worthy beings with tales to inform. Hailes’ Ms. Veve exudes the succesful heat and command of a grasp trainer.

We then meet the remainder of the forged: the 4 kids getting ready for his or her first day of college. There’s Angelina (a candy and affable Carla Duren), who has spent her summer season studying books to her sassy little sister (performed with hilarious accuracy by Hailes), Min, performed within the efficiency I attended by Sarah Anne Sillers, a unusual artist who loves monsters, Sam (Noah Virgile), a nonverbal, musical soul with sensory sensitivity, and Rigoberto (Camilo Linares), a soccer-obsessed boy who moved from Venezuela and who is actually lacking his abuelita.

Rigoberto’s entrance is among the many surprising delights within the musical. He’s “taking part in” soccer as he enters from the viewers, involving many keen younger kids in pantomiming heading the ball again to him as he makes his approach to the stage. My son’s and plenty of different children’ jaw dropped as they realized the display screen on the stage was all of the sudden displaying the viewers itself, and so they may really see themselves on it!

Noah Virgile, Ashley D. Nguyen, Carla Duren, Audrey Hailes, and Camilo Linares in ‘The Day You Start.’ Photograph by Teresa Wooden.

The particular results and lighting in The Day You Start deserve a particular point out, as they’re integral to the leisure and pleasure of this manufacturing. The work of Lighting Designer Tuce Yasak and Projection Designers Hailey LaRoe and Attilio Rigotti was a serious boon to the musical.

Of the 9 musical numbers, a couple of stand out. Hailes’ lead vocals in “Veve’s Good Morning” are lovely and powerful. Her voice is magnetic. The aforementioned grand entrance of Rigoberto is accompanied by the upbeat and enjoyable “My Identify Is Rigoberto,” with a catchy Latin rhythm.

Carla Duren, Ashley D. Nguyen, Noah Virgile, and Camilo Linares in ‘The Day You Start.’ Photograph by Teresa Wooden.

When the 4 kids are at lunch, three of them are postpone by Min’s strong-smelling kimchi and rice dish. Because of this, Min sings and educates us concerning the ubiquity of rice in “Min’s Valuable World,” which is paying homage to a folks rock tune. Sillers rocked this quantity as she sang, “…let’s speak about rice,” with enthusiasm.

“Choose Me” additionally caught my consideration for its nice beat and power. Toshi Reagon impressively not solely wrote the music and lyrics for “The Day You Start” but additionally performs guitar, drums, percussion, and synth on most of the numbers.

In a few the numbers, I had issue listening to the lyrics; the singers sounded barely muffled or quiet because the background music appeared to overpower them. That is might have been as a result of my seat was proper below the audio system, however price mentioning.

The actors are to be recommended for enjoying characters a lot youthful than themselves with dignity and conviction. My five-year-old requested me after the musical, “Mother, have been these children?” The mannerisms, cadence, motion, and facial expressions have been all executed to perfection. Virgile, whose refined but genuine portrayal of Sam included no spoken strains, makes use of a speaking keyboard to speak. It sparked curiosity and an important dialog with my son. Linares was a memorable and enigmatic Rigoberto who lit up the stage.

Attending this efficiency is definite to make you’re feeling affirmed and content material, empowered to inform your individual tales with delight and carry the cheerful bubble of The Day You Start’s world with you for a very long time.

Working Time: 55 minutes, with no intermission.

The Day You Start performs by way of December 18, 2022, on the Kennedy Heart’s Household Theater – 2700 F Avenue, NW, in Washington DC. For tickets ($20–$25), name the field workplace at (202) 467-4600, or buy them on-line. Finest suited to ages 7–12 in line with Kennedy Heart’s web site.

This system for The Day You Start is on-line right here.

The manufacturing will embark on a Nationwide Tour in 2023 (dates and venues to be
introduced).

COVID Security: Masks are elective in all Kennedy Heart areas for guests and workers. In the event you favor to put on a masks, you might be welcome to take action. See Kennedy Heart’s full COVID Security Plan right here.

The Day You Start
World Premiere Kennedy Heart Fee
Based mostly on the E book by Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by Rafael López
Script by Jacqueline Woodson
Music and Lyrics by Toshi Reagon
Directed by Charlotte Brathwaite
Puppetry Design and Route by Emma Wiseman

Dramaturg Amissa Miller; Costume Design by Trevor Bowen; Sound Design by Nick Hernandez; Casting Route by Danica Rodriguez; Hair and Make-up Design by Priscilla Bruce; Choreography by Audrey Hailes; Creative Manufacturing by Sean-Maurice Lynch; Govt Manufacturing by David Kilpatrick and Jordan LaSalle.

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