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Open: 10/02/10- Close: 11/21/10 Angelina Ballerina The Musical
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Children’s theatre is easy to overlook, especially in a city with so many theatre options, but often these one-hour musicals are written by talented theatre writers. This is the case with Vital Theatre Company’s production of Angelina Ballerina, now playing through January 2.  Susan DiLallo, a multi-award-winning bookwriter and lyricist, and composer Ben Morss have crafted an engaging show for children based on the popular children’s book series of the same name.  The afternoon I saw it, the kids in the audience were mesmerized.

DiLallo and Morss allowed the dancing to take the spotlight, which is as it should be in a story about dancing. The mouse Angelina, played by the adorable Whitney Meyer, loves ballet and is so excited to dance for her idol, the famous ballerina Serena Silvertail (Amy White), that she oversleeps and misses the sign-ups at her dance school. All the ballet spots are taken, so her friends Alice (Cassie Okenka), Viki (Amber Coartney), A.Z. (Eric Resetivo), and Gracie (Amanda Yachechak) encourage her to try other forms of dance. Although her heart is in ballet, she has a wonderful time discovering all the different styles of dance.

As Angelina, Meyer is a graceful dancer and has a lovely voice and an expressive face. She imbues Angelina with sweetness, spunk, and charm. Her voice is a bit weak, however, and the music sometimes overpowers her in moments when she should sound strong.  The entire cast dances and sings with great energy. To their credit, never once did I forget that the characters were mice.

Sam Viverito’s direction and choreography really shine in Angelina’s exploration of dance forms, and in general the show moves briskly and packs in a good amount and variety of dancing.  Kyle Dixon’s bedroom and kitchen set makes great use of Angelina’s favorite pastel colors—pink and blue—and creates more than enough room for the dancing to happen.  Elisabeth Vastola’s gorgeous ballet costumes look wonderful in the dance numbers, and her mouse ears and tails help each cast member embody the tiny rodents. Michael Gottlieb’s lighting seamlessly moves between performance and reality.

While the children in the audience sat still throughout the show, at the curtain call it was their turn to let loose and dance with Angelina and her friends.  Children of all ages joyfully ran to the stage and moved to the music.  Only an hour in length, Angelina Ballerina is a great outing for children, especially if they love theatre and dance.

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Vital Theatre Company : 2162 Broadway