Broadway

The Quirky Kimberly Akimbo on Broadway Has Heart and Soul

The Quirky Kimberly Akimbo on Broadway Has Heart and Soul

There are times performances are just so soulful and done to perfection that you know that the performer has done something special. Victoria Clark’s performance in the title role is heartfelt and touching.. She makes lemonade out of the moldy mess life has given her. We ache as we know her dreams will never be fulfilled. We suffer silently as we learn her needs have and will never be met. We cheer as someone finally sees her and helps cushion the blows she has been dealt. Clark makes us feel all of this and more.

David Lindsay-Abaire’s dark 2001 play has been musicalized with lyrics by Abaire’s and music by Jeanine Tesori (Caroline, or Change). The title comes from the cedntral character’s name. Kimberly Levaco has a rare genetic disorder that causes her body to age 4-5 times faster than normal. Most people with this disorder don’t live past 16 and Kimberly is almost there. Kimberly not only has to deal with her disease, but her dysfunctional family as well. Her father Buddy (the winning Steven Boyer) is an alcoholic who loves his daughter but forgets the important things like her 16th birthday and makes promises that will never be kept. Her tuba-playing high school classmate Seth (the grounding Justin Cooley), is the first person to see her as a real person. His addiction to anagrams scrambles the letters of her name and rearranges them to “Cleverly Akimbo.”

Kimberly, has a rare genetic disorder that causes her body to age 4-5 times faster than normal. Most people with this disorder don’t live past 16 and Kimberly is almost there. Kimberly not only has to deal with her disease, but her dysfunctional family as well. Her father Buddy (the winning Steven Boyer) is an alcoholic, who loves his daughter, but forgets the important things like her 16th birthday and makes promises that will never be kept.

Her mom Pattie (the terrific Alli Mauzey) is heavily pregnant, self-absorbed with two bandaged paws and a victim’s attitude. Both are more like teenagers than Kimberly, who ends up having to parent them both. The real wounds have little to do with Kimberly’s illness, but the absence of a healthy family bond and her mother’s rejection of her firstborn child.

Nina White, Bonnie Milligan, Fernell Hogan, Michael Iskander, and Olivia Hardy Photo by
Joan Marcus

Then there’s Aunt Debra (the powerhouse Bonnie Milligan), who is on parole and pops up like a bad penny. She wants her niece to help her in her latest scheme. I am seeing another Tony nomination for this fleshed out role. Milligan brings the audience to their feet with her soaring vocals and comedic chops.

In the meantime there is a chorus of misfits (Olivia Elease Hardy, Fernell Hogan II, Michael Iskander, and Nina White) who befriend Kimberly and join in the caper to get costumes for their choir.

I was not a fan of this show when I saw it off Broadway, but Jessica Stone’s direction keeps up the pace and the show works better on a bigger stage. Ms. Stone has honed-in her cast, making them achingly real, and lets the story tell itself. It is impressive. Danny Medford’s choreography is unique. David Zinn’s set transforms the stage into a skating rink, the Levaco’s home, the school library, and Kim’s bedroom. it is well done and seamless.

David Lindsay-Abaire’s book is humorous and insightful. Lindsay-Abaire’s lyrics and Tesori’s music grow on you and help ease the pain with laughter at seeing flawed people hurt as chaos reigns for people who deserve kindness.

Kimberly Akimbo has found its heart, soul and humanity and it is touching. BRAVO!

Kimberly Akimbo: Booth Theatre, 222 W 45th Street.

Broadway

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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