The Buzz


August 21, 2008
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Both my son, Charlie, and I were skeptical about Pinkalicious, the musical based on the best-selling children’s book of the same name currently playing at New World Stages. Charlie’s dubiety arose from the fact that, at three and a half years old, he worships at the altar of all things boy these days—the creepier and crawlier, the better—and has recently made what I hope is the developmentally normal, but which I fear might smack of out-and-out misogyny, declaration that the color pink is only for girls. I, on the other hand, just wasn’t sure if there would be enough material from the book to sustain a full-fledged musical.

The show opens with the story’s pigtailed and pink-clad precocious young heroine, Pinkalicious, belting out an anthem about her favorite thing in the whole world—the color pink—and greedily gobbling pink cupcake after pink cupcake. When her beleaguered parents finally put the kibosh on her cupcake consumption, Pinkalicious stomps off to her room in a snit and falls into a restless sleep, visions of pink cupcakes dancing through her head during the night.

When she wakes up the next morning, she discovers, much to her delight and her parents’ horror, that she has turned the color of raspberry sorbet. When no amount of scrubbing will diminish the pink, her parents cart her off to the doctor, who diagnoses her with a severe case of Pinkititis and prescribes a steady course of green foods. Her parents dutifully whip up a smorgasbord of Brussels sprout burgers, asparagus milkshakes, and broccoli Popsicles, but to no avail. Pinkalicious refuses to allow a single green morsel to pass her lips, but sneaks to the kitchen after lights out to sate her pink cupcake craving. This proves to be her undoing. Overnight, Pinkalicious changes from pink to bright red and is forced to finally admit that there can be too much of a good thing.

Enlisting the help of her younger brother, Peter, she learns to love her greens and transforms back to her normal color. Peter, however, who earlier in the show crooned a bluesy number called “The Pink Blues” revealing his own clandestine love affair with the color pink, gives into the pink cupcake temptation and turns a lovely shade of hot pink at the show’s conclusion.

Both Charlie and I liked Peter—Charlie, I suspect, because he got away with some pretty silly antics onstage and I for the fact that in Peter, the show’s creators got to thumb their noses at gender norms and assert that, of course it’s okay for boys to like pink. At the risk of revealing too much of my own stay-at-home mom personality, I also felt a special affinity for Pinkalicious’s mother, who emerges as much more of a presence in the show than she did in the book. She’s a Type-A, constantly cleaning, laptop-tapping, deep cleansing breath-taking New York City mom stereotype who spends the majority of her stage time yelling at her two kids and throwing her hands in the air in exasperation. The show fleshed out some areas that the book had not, but still managed to stay true to its message of “everything in moderation” by finishing up in under an hour, thus keeping preschooler attention at its maximum and antsiness to a minimum.

After the show, Charlie and I satisfied our own cupcake longings at Magnolia Bakery (200 Columbus Avenue @ 69th Street), where Charlie made me proud by ordering not only a pink cupcake with no prodding, but one very fancily decorated with a pretty sugar flower on top to boot. And my boy, who has a sweet tooth the size of Minnesota and has been known to snarf down as many cupcakes as he can get away with before being caught at birthday parties and other sugar-laden gatherings, very solemnly declared that he would have just one cupcake, but no more. I don’t know if he was more afraid of turning pink or being force-fed an all-green vegetable diet, but he took the added precaution of eating only half his cupcake at the bakery and saving the other half to take home. You, too, can enjoy this some-for-now-and-some-for-later approach by going to see Pinkalicious now through September 21st, and buying the book to read time and time again after the show closes later next month.


Artwork © 2006 by Victoria Kann