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‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day’ at Adventure Theatre by Julia L. Exline

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Adventure Theatre presents Alexander and the Terrible. Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, a production based on the classic children’s book by Judith Viorst. Gail Humphries Mardirosian directs this energetic, musical feast that brings the beloved book to life for a new generation to enjoy, with musical direction by Joshua Morgan.

Ben Lurye and Parker Drown in 'Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.' Photo by Bruce Douglas.

Scenic Designer Douglas Clark frames colorful, intersecting beams before a deep, glittery-blue backdrop, creating the feel of a unique sort of jungle gym, and the actors use it as such, climbing and sitting on them throughout the production. The set is comprised of many shapes and colors, and large props such as a checker-print bed, dentist chair, and shoe displays are swiftly wheeled on and offstage by the actors to change the setting. The geometric shadows cast from the beams creates an almost 3-dimensional effect, while Lighting Designer Andrew Cissna follows the characters with dimmed spots.

Sound Designer Brandon Roe uses effects such as alarm buzzes and school bells, accompanied by cheery melodies that turn ominous at appropriate times (like a fun scene when Alexander visits a cackling dentist that wields torture devices). To go along with the colorful set, Costume Designer Adriana Diaz clothes the actors in bright, bold colors, while using patterns that stay true to those of the book, such as Alex’s green-and-white striped shirt. Children don vivid pajamas that have blankets tied around them as capes, as well as imaginative school clothes with prints and accessories that fit the persona of each character. Even the adults, while wearing age-appropriate clothing, are dressed in vibrant colors that pop, with fun accessories like winged eyeglasses.

Alexander, played by Helen Hayes Award recipient Parker Drown, is having a bad day, starting from the moment he wakes up to find gum in his hair. Drown perfectly mimics the pitchy whine and scrunched face of a grumpy child as he trips over his toys, is scolded for singing too loudly in school, and is unceremoniously dumped by his best friend (a wonderfully nerdy Ben Lurye), among other things. Declaring, “I think I’m gonna move to Australia,” the cast sings about the joys of life in Australia while dressed as kangaroos and koalas, in an energetic and memorable number choreographed by Kate Arnold Wernick.

After school, Alexander’s mother (a terrific performance by Broadway’s Sandy Bainum) takes him and his rambunctious brothers (Ashleigh King and S. Lewis Feemster) to a shoe store, the dentist, and to pick up their father (Benjamin L. Horem) from his office…where a gleaming copying machine catches Alexander’s eye. Each outing yields worse results for Alexander, and he wonders how much more bad luck he can take. It truly is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!

This production is a real knockout! The set, effects, music and choreography are all masterfully executed, and the entire cast is hilariously talented. The script is filled with fun songs and upbeat dance routines, and the riotous interaction between the actors is great fun to watch. Everyone in the audience, both young and old, had a great time, myself included. This production is bound to be as adored as the book that inspired it. Grab your tickets while you still can, because the showings are selling out!

Running time is 70 minutes.

Featured Picture: Benjamin L. Horen, Parker Drown, and Sandy Bainum in ‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.’ Photo by Bruce Douglas.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day runs through April 9, 2012, at Adventure Theatre, in Glen Echo Park – 7300 MacArthur Blvd., in Glen Echo, MD. Purchase tickets by calling (301)634-2270, or order them online.

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