“What do you do with a less then pleasant present?” It’s the central question examined in the world premiere musical comedy, Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters. A winning addition to Lifeline Theatre’s KidSeries, Lester tells the tale of a headstrong lad forced to step out of his comfort zone, at an age when individuality isn’t often embraced. Based on the book by K.G. Campbell, with a script adapted by Aly Renee Amidei, who also served as the costume designer, the litany of frightening funny frocks provided many a site-gag to the numerous kiddos in attendance. With extra arms, hoods, accessories and delivered in a rainbow explosion of color, the costumes here are the real stars. With whimsical direction by Heather Currie, and a wonderfully witty score from Scott Tallarida & lyrics by Julie and Scott Tallarida, there is nothing Dreadful about this Lester at all.
Self proclaimed “Mayor of Tidy Town” Lester (Sam Button-Harrison) is constantly making & filing orderly lists of words, phrases, smells and activities. Both “fastidious” and persnickety, Lester’s obsessive order is turned on its ear with the arrival of Cousin Clara. When her “cottage was consumed by a crocodile” this hapless, harried, homeless, grannie hastily becomes the family’s houseguest. “Clickity, clickity, all she does is sit and knit” bellows an exasperated Lester. As a thank you present, Cousin Clara (Elizabeth Levy) elects to hand-knit a series of sweaters for Lester, each more preposterous and ridiculous then the last. “Pom-poms, are kind of my trademark” Clara chides as our hero unwraps a gift of yards of orange knitted fabric, accented with plentiful purple plumes. His father (Scott Sawa) and mother (Amanda Roeder) taught Lester “gifts should always be appreciated,” however our protagonist now as a new paramount peril. He now has to wear these gregarious and grotesque gifts to school where he is bombarded by a barrage of both ridicule and mockery. Teacher, Mr. Twist (Chris Vizurraga) steps in to remind the classmates these sweaters are just an expression of individuality and should not be scoffed. When a team of mischievous clowns come to town, they are instantly impressed with Lester’s distinctive pullovers. Lester’s fashionable quagmire is quickly resolved when Cousin Clara joins the Clowns carnival as their chief costume creator.
Reinforcing the importance of “embracing the unexpected,” this appealing story will enchant audiences of all ages. The minimalist set was created by scenic and properties designer Alan Donahue. Diane D. Fairchild’s lighting design will impressed and music director Laura McKenzie keeps the pace racing, song after song. Filled with alliteration and elation, Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters completely charms. A fantastic, live action, alternative to entertain the family, Lifeline Theatre’s KidSeries Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters is a triumph.
Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters is currently playing at Lifeline Theatre through April 24, 2016