When it comes to peppy musicalizations of super-popular picture books aimed at girls, Vital Children's Theatre seems to have cornered the market. Many a tutu-and-tiara-clad kid has seen the troupe's adaptations of Pinkalicious, Angelina Ballerina and the original Fancy Nancy. Now just in time for the holidays, the company has unveiled its latest page-to-stage show: Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas based on Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser's 2009 book of the same name.
Like all of Vital's kid-lit-inspired musicals, Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas caters to preexisting fans, but that's not a bad thing. There's nothing wrong with knowing your audience and giving them what they want. So if your children love over-the-top outfits, spectacular decorations and expanding their vocabulary as much as my seven-year-old, then Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas is a wonderful holiday indulgence—that's a fancy word for treat.
Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas is an energetic and colorful production best suited for children ages 2 to 7. They should certainly relate to the story of Nancy wanting to make the most fabulous tree ever but then not quite getting what she expects. A small dramatic twist (with a Gift of the Magi theme) lends a little suspense though of course, everything turns out well in the end. In addition to being entertained, young audiences will be inspired to think about generosity, kindness and the true spirit of the holidays. And in a nice touch at the end, children are invited on stage to help Nancy and her family trim their fancy Christmas tree.
Young readers who love the books won't be disappointed as the characters look like they leaped right off the page. The actress portraying Nancy, Kaitlyn Sage, is particularly good at recreating her dramatic mannerisms, facial expressions and signature first position, chin-in-the-air stance. Nancy's little sister, JoJo, is also well played by Gabrielle Petrosino, a petite woman who clearly enjoys channeling her inner toddler. And as usual with Vital shows, the songs (by Randy Klein and Matthew Hardy) are catchy and charming, though some of the clever lyrics may go over tots' heads.
And since this is the season for giving, consider donating to Vital Children's Theatre. The nonprofit organization is a veritable Upper West Side institution that offers great children's classes and camps in addition to shows.
Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas is playing through Sunday, January 4, 2015 at Vital Children's Theatre, 2162 Broadway between 76th and 77th Streets. Visit the website for a complete schedule. Tickets are $39.50.
Find more seasonal fun in our Holiday Guide, including our roundup of the best holiday theater shows for families.
Photos by SunPro