Is 2-and-a-Half Too Young to See Live Theater? Not If It's Freckleface Strawberry

I admit I was a little worried about bringing my toddler daughter, Isadora, to her first theatrical performance, a musical version of one of her favorite books, Freckleface Strawberry by Julianne Moore. What if she couldn't sit still, got whiney, or worse, ruined the play for the crowd around us?

Beforehand, she didn’t seem that excited by the idea of going -- but then again, how do you know you’d like chocolate if you’ve never tried it? She willingly came along without a fuss, and throughout the 70-minute show sat quietly on my lap. (Glancing over at the expensive empty seat next to me was a little frustrating, but having interrupted lap-time was incredibly sweet!)

The musical has an adult cast but they all play kids, acting with animated gestures. It follows the book closely and has a colorful, storybook set. It charmingly traces the growing self-confidence of a redheaded, heavily freckled 8-year old girl who's teased at the playground and hides under a ski mask. Eventually, she learns to embrace her uniqueness -- it's a simple but poignant lesson in loving who you are. Sure, the songs aren’t that memorable, and the added sub-plot is a little thin, but the kids didn’t seem to mind. It clearly spoke to them. The play's designers did a great job bringing LeUyen Pham’s charming illustrations to life, and the multi-tasking cast works hard. My girl stared wide-eyed throughout; I think she may have forgotten to blink!

When the play had finished, Isadora didn’t clap, didn’t smile, didn’t say much about it. I honestly couldn’t tell if she enjoyed it or not. But the next morning at 7, I heard her talking to herself in her room. I opened the door and she said, “Freckleface Strawberry is coming over to read me a book today.” And so began her new obsession with a little redheaded girl. She talks about her all time, calls her Strawberry Shortcake doll “Freckleface” and wants to read the books every day. To me, in a world dominated by Cinderellas and fairies, having more realistic role model like the one Julianne Moore has created is a welcome reprieve.

And as far as the play goes, I think we’re gonna go see it again.

How old were your kids when they saw their first play? Chime in below!

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