Capital Fringe Review: ‘The Crayon King, or Learning to Share’ by JR Russ

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The Crayon King, or Learning to Share, by DC Character Coalition, is much more than a tale about sharing. This playful piece is thoroughly enjoyable, whether you’re an operetta fan or not, performed by a skilled ensemble. Cast members weave in and out of the narrative, between their main character roles to more Grecian chorus-like ensemble members when supporting a soloist or two.

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Amy Martin Massey (Music Director/Pianist/Miss Tracy), does a phenomenal job keeping the cast together from her desk/piano on stage right. Sarah Beth Pfeifer (Kristen) is vocally stunning from her first note, and is absolutely annoying as the most popular kid in the class, all because she has the most crayons. Daniel Vito Siefring (Ricky), is just as aggravating as the classroom’s social climber who will stop at nothing to be popular. Robert Mintz (Frankie) wonderfully portrays a kid who tries to keep the peace, and balance his friendships with his ideals.  And as director and choreographer, his blocking and movement capture and reflect the world built by the book and voices. And Jeffrey Higgins (Jimmy) shines at the top of Act II, singing about how it feels to be an eight crayoner, the lowest of the classroom’s classes.

Higgins is also the show’s librettist and, along with the rest of the cast, he makes a deceptively innocent plot more nuanced and complex than one might expect. Before you know it, these four classmates are dealing with everything from friendship and love, class relations and equality, to self-acceptance and forgiveness. And each performer is so absolutely committed to what can seem to be caricatures of their inner kindergartners, that conflict and resolution seem simple not because they lack depth, but because you immediately understand where they are, what they want, and how the feel when they get it…or when they don’t.

While the show is certainly family-friendly, you don’t necessarily need young ones of your own to see this. But if you do, you should definitely bring them!! If you don’t, take a cue from the cast, and bring out your own inner child to see this show. Not only is it fun, but you will enjoy a wonderful performance by artists who are certainly masters in their craft.

Running Time: 75 minutes.

The Crayon King, or Learning to Share runs through July 26, 2013 at the Mountain – at Mount Vernon United Methodist Church, 900 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC. For performance times and to purchase tickets, visit the show’s Capital Fringe page.