Book and Lyrics: Susan Dilallo
Music and Lyrics: Danny Abosch
Musical Direction: James Dobinson
Reviewer: Helen Jones
Fancy Nancy The Musical is based upon the series of children’s picture books by Jane O’Connor and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser. The original book, published in 2005, was a huge success and spawned a series of books now totalling fifty.
Fancy Nancy is a young girl with a huge personality. She loves everything ‘fancy’ and dresses up all the time, even decorating her bedroom with all things fancy. She also loves to use ‘fancy’ words such as ‘demonstrate’ instead of ‘show’!
The Off-Broadway 2012 musical by Vital Theatre Company is based principally on the book of Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet. Fancy Nancy and her friends Bree, Wanda, Rhonda and Lionel are going to be performing in their very first show ‘Deep Sea Dances’ with their dance class. Nancy is convinced that she and Bree will be selected to play the mermaids, but she is severely disappointed when the coveted rôle goes to another child and she is cast as a tree, much to her disgust.
Nancy then plans how she can bring a certain ‘fancy’ flair to her rôle as a tree, she finally comes to terms with her part in the show, but events mean that in fact the girl playing the mermaid cannot dance and Nancy gets her wish, but learns a lesson in the process.
The music for the show is entrancing, sounding suitably childlike, while retaining a style and wittiness often lacking in children’s musicals. Cleverly the ‘fancy’ words are explained as part of the lyrics, meaning that even young children won’t feel that they cannot understand, while parents (or adults generally) can smile at the use of words that most children don’t use. Highlights are “You’ll Always Feel Much Better After Tea” and “Something Terrible” but as a parent my favourite has to be “You’ll Always Be My Star” which describes perfectly how a mother feels about her child, in terms a child can appreciate.
With a small cast of just six performers, they all need to be strong singers and performers, and this recording showcases the six perfectly. Alyson Bloom as Nancy has a great voice and creates just the right amount of little girl voice to be convincing. But the rest of the cast: Darilyn Castillo (Bree), Tricia Giordano (Wanda), Jes Dugger (Rhonda), Kyle Motsinger (Lionel) and Amanda Savan (Mom) are equally good.
Fancy Nancy The Musical is a beautifully sweet children’s story wrapped up with fun songs. It is crying out to be produced over here so Fancy Nancy can captivate the children and parents of the UK too.