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REVIEW- Fancy Nancy, The Musical - Chance Theater

Updated: Jun 20, 2020

“...My favorite color is fuchsia. That’s a fancy way of saying purple.”

Chance Theater has done it again! Based on the popular “Fancy Nancy” book series by Jane O’Connor (sister of Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times), and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, with original staging by Kelly Todd, six-time Ovation Award winning Chance Theater has included in their 20th Anniversary Season Theatre for Young Audience series an engaging opportunity for you and your little lady to have a fun night out! “Fancy Nancy, The Musical,” is now playing through October 28th at the Chance to brimming theatres. Script by Kleban Foundation Award winner Susan DiLallo and score by composer/lyricist Danny Abosch, the show follows the plot of O’Connor’s book “Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet.”

When you first meet Fancy Nancy on the printed page, she marches about in boas and tiaras, sprinkling her speech with French phrases and sophisticated words. Typical comments: “My favorite color is fuchsia. That’s a fancy way of saying purple.” And “I am positive — that’s fancy for 100 percent sure.” Adults may find this a bit cloying in the musical to some degree (that’s fancy for sets your teeth on edge), but utterly charming, filling the theatre with laughter, catchy songs and life-long lessons.

Fancy Nancy is a beloved character of children everywhere, and princesses and tomboys alike will love the music, humor, dancing and fun of this show. She is a young girl with a huge personality and loves to dress up all the time, decorate her bedroom with all things fancy, and use big words. At less than one hour in length, this show is packing in audiences of little girls sitting on the edge of their seats in feather boas and all things sparkly, cheering on for a girl who doesn’t believe in “plain-wrapping” anything! Ooh la la!

From the tip-top of her twinkly tiara down to her sparkly slippers, Nancy is ready for the spotlight in her first dance recital, “Deep Sea Dances.” But her fancy world crumbles when someone else gets picked to be the prima ballerina (that’s a fancy word for “star of the show”). Nancy is stuck playing a dreary, dull tree, and her best friend, Bree, gets the role of an oyster. Both are very disappointed. Then, when the lead girl sprains her ankle, the mermaid part unexpectedly goes to Bree. Nancy, who really wants to be happy for her friend, but is consumed with envy (a fancy word for “lowbrow emotion”), consults with the “wisest mother in the world,” her mom.

Nancy’s mother (Chance Theater Resident Artist Rachel Oliveros Catalano, “Big Fish”) helps her understand that it is okay to be upset and disappointed, and helps her daughter resolve her tangled feelings in song. “You’ll Always Be My Star” is a touching number which describes perfectly how a mother bonds with her child, relatable even to the very young. Nancy finally comes to terms with her part in the show, and realizes she must become a musical hero by finding the fancy flair in her new role as a tree.

Leaping off the pages as Nancy are two theatre veterans who double the role brilliantly - Jillian Batt (“Alice In Wonderland”), and Angela Griswold (“Eight Reindeer Monologues”), both in a reprised role performance from last year.

The supporting cast includes Lionel (Matt Takahashi, “Big Fish,” “She Loves Me”) who adds boyish high jinks, and does a hilarious rap as a hip-hop shark, as well as Liz B. Williams (“A Chorus Line,” “Broadway in the Park’s Little Mermaid”) as delightful Bree; and Rhonda (Dance Captain Monika Pena, “Violet”) and Wanda (Megan McCarthy, “Beauty and the Beast”) who both have a witty, circus-tinged number about their friendly sports rivalry.

The music for the show is entrancing, sounding suitably childlike, while retaining a clever style often lacking in children’s musicals. Highlights are the opening song, “Anyone Can Be Fancy,” “You’ll Always Feel Much Better After Tea,” and “Something Terrible,” and of course, the shows most inspired stroke, “The Deep Sea Dances Ballet.”

Directed by Alex Bueno (“The Eight Reindeer Monologues”), and musically directed by Robyn Manion, the show is stage managed by Lindsay Marsh. Sound Design is by Joshue Cardenas, Costumes by Christina M. Perez, Lighting by Jon Hyrkas and Scenic Design is by Megan Hill.

With only two more weekends to go, "Fancy Nancy, the Musical" presents a brilliant (that’s fancy for amazing) production on the Cripe Stage to the fanciest of young theatergoers.

The Chance Theater, one of the leading ensemble-driven theatre companies in Southern California, has been labeled “a major force on the Southern California theatrical landscape” by OC Weekly, and gets another round of applause for this heart-warming and entertaining show. Kids will also enjoy getting autographs and pictures with each cast member after each performance. You may even want to attend the after show Tea Parties available. Don’t forget your boa! Performance times are Fridays at 7pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 11am, 2pm and 5pm.

Ticket information:

This show is Highly, Highly Recommended and Very Kid Friendly!

Chris Daniels

Arts Reviewer


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