Company brings actress’s book to life with all-kid cast

Tara
Tara Bradbury
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‘Freckleface Strawberry’ is Julianne Moore’s account of her childhood travails

“Once upon a time there was a little girl who was just like everybody else. She was seven. She was short. She could ride a bike. She was just like everybody else, except for one thing: she had red hair. And something worse: she had freckles!”

Cast members of Best Kind Productions’ upcoming show, “Freckleface Strawberry,” perform songs from the musical at the A.C. Hunter Library in St. John’s last Saturday.

So begins “Freckleface Strawberry,” a New York Times bestselling book for young children by actress — and redhead — Julianne Moore (the book title was her childhood nickname).

Local theatre company Best Kind Productions is mounting the stage version of the book at Cochrane Street United Church this week, hoping once again to provide children with a powerful message of acceptance.

Teased by other children, Strawberry tries everything to get rid of her freckles, from scrubbing them with soap to covering them in makeup to wearing a ski mask to school.

With the help of her classmates, she eventually realizes that everyone is unique and special.

Best Kind Productions’ most recent show was “Honk!” staged last August at the Bowring Park amphitheatre.

Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling,” the goal of the show was to bring an anti-bullying message to kids.

Dealing with bullying

“I think I’m just drawn to those stories because I’m a dad and a teacher and I dealt with a lot of bullying myself growing up,” explained Kyle McDavid, director of both productions. “I realize how important it is for kids to be taught these lessons about accepting themselves for who they are and not thinking there’s anything wrong.

“I think it’s even more powerful for a child or teenager to see these plays and to see kids their own age performing and teaching the lesson. It’s much more powerful than an adult talking to them.”

The original off-Broadway version of “Freckleface Strawberry” was intended for adults performing in children’s roles, on account of intense vocal harmonies and choreography.

McDavid’s all-kid class was able to take it on with no problems.

“I raised the bar and they surpassed it,” he said. “The kids are unbelievably talented for their age. I think they’re going to surprise a lot of people.”

Since part of Best Kind’s mandate is to give a little something back to the community with every show, a portion of “Freckleface Strawberry” ticket sales will go towards the Salvation Army’s Adopt-a-Family program for Christmas. Cast members and crew will use the money to purchase gifts and food for local families in need.

“Freckleface Strawberry” stars Kate King-Jesso as Strawberry and Courtney Fowler as her mom, and features 17 other young performers. Tickets for the show are $22 regular admission ($20 for seniors and students) and are available at the Holy Heart Theatre box office, by calling 579-4424 and online at www.holyhearttheatre.com.

The show runs from Thursday to Saturday at 7 p.m., with an extra

2 p.m. matinée on Saturday.

tbradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Organizations: New York Times, Cochrane Street United Church, Ugly Duckling Salvation Army Holy Heart Theatre

Geographic location: Bowring Park, Broadway

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