Kimberly Akimbo

Started by scenicdesign71, Feb 25, 2022, 05:23 PM

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Moving to Broadway this fall; previews begin October 12, opening November 10:

A quick search turns up no news about a cast recording as of yet, but, following the example of other Off-to-Broadway transfers, I'd expect one in advance of the transfer.  Still, the mere fact that one hasn't yet been announced makes me wonder whether Ms. Tesori and/or Mr. Lindsay-Abaire have any significant revisions in mind.  (Unlike Fun Home and Grey Gardens, there don't seem to be any cast changes planned, so that's not currently available as a reason for waiting to record).

The show left me lukewarm at the Atlantic Theater in December, but not so lukewarm that I wouldn't consider seeing it again uptown.



I'm glad they took the opportunity to do some tweaking, and am still up for seeing the show again.  But on the evidence of its Off-Broadway premiere at the Atlantic, I wouldn't have said Kimberly Akimbo qualifies as much of a "nerdical" (Green's term), except in his broadest baseline sense of being small and not based on an existing pop catalogue, movie, or other household-name intellectual property.  And, I suppose, the narrow literal sense in which most of its characters are high-school outcasts -- the eponymous heroine and her anagram-loving boyfriend, plus a quartet of show-choir gleeks -- but that doesn't seem to be the kind of nerd-appeal Green means.  Indeed, what he does mean would appear to be exactly the kind of musical that hits my own personal sweet spot; but if KA hasn't yet done so, it's partly because, downtown, at any rate, it struck me as a bit too broadly crowd-pleasing for its own good.

In the context of Tesori's career, which has hitherto been pretty neatly dividable into commercial work (Millie, Shrek, a few direct-to-video Disney animated sequels) and non- (pretty much everything else), Kimberly seems well-positioned to bridge those two worlds; but I'd argue that, in spirit at least, it falls comfortably into the former, despite its less-well-known source material.  Where Violet and Caroline and Fun Home and even the imperfect Soft Power all pack huge questions into tiny, stubbornly thorny packages, Kimberly, to me, feels small in every sense except its appeal to middle-class, middlebrow, mainstream sensibilities (the broad opposite of "nerd appeal"), while its ostensible "big" themes -- family, mortality, etc. -- aren't so much developed as signposted amid all the strenuously quirky goings-on.

It's possible I might feel differently if I were a parent; something about Green's review suggests to me that his enchantment might have partly to do with being a father himself, which, if that's what it takes, means I'll likely never come around to loving this show.  I did feel heartbreaking empathy for the flawed Gellman and Bechdel parents (in Caroline and Fun Home, respectively); but the Levacos of KA struck me as sitcom figures, occasionally enlivened by faint glimmers of humanity, but never in any serious danger of acquiring a third dimension.

FWIW, mine is decidedly the minority opinion, and for Ms. Tesori's sake I'm glad for that to be the case.  Kimberly certainly isn't a bad or unenjoyable show; as always, if I do manage to revisit it, I would dearly love to be won over, and will happily eat my words should that occur.  At least one reviewer has pronounced it "darker" and "sadder" in its uptown incarnation, which sounds to me like a step in the right direction for this material.