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A CurtainUp Review
Keats is one of the most widely known children's book authors and illustrator. His original pictures, created from a mixture of thick watercolors and collage, are recognizable to millions of children and adults alike. It seemed a natural for a book by him to become a family musical. But, as like a Disney animated movie becoming a book, something becomes lost in the transition. As we watch The Little Mermaid for the animation; we read Ezra Jack Keats for the pictures.
The show created by Stephen Schwartz and Anthony Stein had a previous run at the smaller (and more appropriate) York Theatre. It's a heartfelt musical with a cast of talented kids, teens and tweens but the thin plot is not an improvement on the original book and did not sustain the hoped-for longer run at the much larger Little Schubert. As Louie has to adjust to a new neighborhood, a diorama he has made of his old neighborhood turns into a wild fantasy adventure of a visit to his old street and friends.
Louie, played sweetly by Douglas Fabian, has a pure singing voice, and so did the rest of the cast. The ten songs, many accompanied by fun, simple choreography (including one tap-dancing number), made for a lovely afternoon activity for me and a pair of six-year-olds.