Really Rosie – Babes in Joyland
A REVIEW BY RIVER STYX
Really Rosie is a kids’ show. Although the 1975 musical boasts music by Carole King and a book and lyrics by the author of “Where the Wild Things Are,” Maurice Sendak, it is decisively for kids. I’m not crazy about childhood, so when I got to the Thomas Rice Auditorium at the Spring Grove Hospital Center in Catonsville, and entered a day care wonderland complete with stations for coloring and trying on costumes, I thought about getting a g+t at concessions. All they had was Capri Sun.
But, putting aside my own scars from childhood and general aversion to being amongst the little people, Heritage Players’ production of Really Rosie and the extra care they take with welcoming wee folk and their guardians to the auditorium is very cute.
Really Rosie follows a group of kids one summer day in Brooklyn where they basically just sing about wanting to be movie stars. Rosie (Heather Harris) is the eccentric ring-leader of the rag-tag group of neighborhood kids, which includes dweeby Johnny (James Ruth), tomboy Kathy (Adeline K. Sutter), bored Pierre (Jim Gerhardt), a girl who wears a cardboard alligator hat (Raika Boia) and Rosie’s little brother (Maggie Lynn Walker).
And that’s pretty much it. But, over the 70 minutes and 11 songs, most of the kids seemed attentive, which is saying something. The charming set looks like thick-lined illustrations from a children’s book, and incorporates giant disembodied drawings of the moms, who we never see but hear a few times. The music is pleasant, thanks to folk goddess Carole King, and the songs cleverly let each character have his or her moment in the spotlight, which Rosie mostly inhabits throughout the play.
Heather Harris as the quirky Rosie is a cutie. She brings great energy and a sense of whimsy to the precocious little girl, rocking a yellow wide-brimmed hat, boa and Chucks. Another standout is James Ruth as nerdy Johnny. Ruth has spot-on comic timing and a strong voice. I saw Ruth as the starring role in Towson University’s excellent Sweeney Todd this spring, and was pleased to see his versatility in this kids’ show. Adeline K. Sutter alos has a strong voice, and does a fine job as tomboy Kathy.
Really Rosie closes Heritage Players’ 40th anniversary season, which found a new home this year on the campus of the Spring Grove Hospital Center in Catonsville. A heads up for anyone trying to get to the Thomas Rice Auditorium following Google maps, the street address given by Heritage Players takes you to an abandoned building that looks like an old asylum – not a great place for a kids’ show. However, if you click through enough pages on the Heritage Players website, you will reach detailed directions on how to get to the auditorium. (Or just keep driving past the abandoned asylum, veering right until you see a bunch of families walking toward an entrance.)
Bottom line: Really Rosie is a charming and moderately entertaining kids’ show. Heritage Players’ thoughtful touches like coloring and costume stations, a pleasant score and study performances make the show a good option for anyone who needs to find something to do with kids in the late morning or early afternoon this weekend.
Running at Spring Grove Hospital Center until August 16th
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