With a handful of shows across Western Pa., 'Alexander' has fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun lesson
Stubborn, defiant Alexander wants to make it clear: No relocating for him.
In fact, the 6-year-old boy says he is not not not not not not — count them, six “nots” — going to move with his family. And the stunts he pulls in protest create a comedy that will unfold on several Pittsburgh-area stages this week.
The play — a musical from Two Beans Productions, on tour with New York-based TheatreworksUSA — brings to life the popular book by Judith Viorst. The author wrote the book “Alexander, Who's Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move,” and the lyrics for the musical version. Viorst's most famous book features the same character in “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”
Audiences of all ages love the hilarity of the show, along with the lessons, says Alexa Doggett, the actress who plays Alexander.
“Pretty much the entire show revolves around Alexander's reluctance to move — never, no way, N.O. — until the end, when he exhausts his options for how he can avoid moving,” says Doggett, 23, who grew up in Round Rock, Texas, and now lives in New York City.
“He learns lessons on how it can be OK,” she says.
Alexander goes to comical extremes to try and avoid moving, including living with three neighbors, moving into a yard tent, and hiding. Nothing, of course, works as a feasible option for the long run, so Alexander has to give in and move with his family.
“He does all kinds of things, but he realizes that he is better off home with family than anywhere else,” Doggett says. “Home is family ... home is where the heart is, home is where you can always return to. Home is where the people who love you are.”
And accordingly, the musical — with a pre-recorded soundtrack and live singing by the performers — ends with a song called “Home.”
The 55-minute play covers a 10-day period, starting with the news that Alexander's father has taken a job in a city a thousand miles away. Alexander's mom tries to reassure him that he will like the new city, but he won't hear of it.
Over time, his parents and bossy older brothers help Alexander understand that he will be with his family, and he will make new friends, Doggett says.
Alexander's story is relatable, especially to kids who face the trauma of a move.
When performing the play for family and other guests in New York City, one little girl came up to Doggett. “She said, ‘I'm moving next week. When I get there, I'll have a new friend, and I'll have a new soccer team.'”
In the show, Doggett wears a colorful costume with baggy pants, an orange shirt and green sneakers to portray Alexander, who will amuse and educate the audience, she says.
“I think it's a great message, and it's also a good time,” Doggett says.
Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7824 or firstname.lastname@example.org.