by Josh Whitener
A magical world of whimsical fantasy, lively song and dance and – most importantly – pink cupcakes will hit the stage at Matthews Playhouse next weekend as the theater company presents the family musical “Pinkalicious” for the first time.
The show, which is designed, directed and performed by members of the Playhouse’s summer camp staff, takes the stage Saturday, June 16 and 23, at 2 and 4 p.m., and on Friday, June 22, at 10 a.m.
The story centers around a young girl named Pinkalicious who’s obsessed with the color pink and just can’t stop eating pink cupcakes, even though her parents keep warning her. Her indulgence eventually turns her pink, leading her on a fun and challenging adventure to turn herself back to normal.
“It’s a really cute show,” director Willa Folmar said. “The music is just adorable. The absurdity of (the story), that something wild or non-believable could happen, kids just accept that. It’s the joy of being imaginative.”
Folmar and Matthews Playhouse founder June Bayless recently sat down to discuss the type of show they’d like to present for the summer family musical.
“We were looking for a more family-oriented show to do after ‘Nunsense,’” Folmar said. “We needed a small show to meet the demands. (“Pinkalicious”) is an extremely popular children’s series now, and I don’t think anyone else has done (this show) in Charlotte.”
Many of the show’s 14 cast members also are members of the summer camp staff at Matthews Playhouse, most of which are older teenagers and college students. But Folmar needed something special for the role of the title character, so she chose Avery Volker, a 12-year-old with a face very familiar to Matthews Playhouse.
“Pinkalicious” will mark Avery’s seventh show with the Playhouse, but being the star of the show has been a whole new adventure. For starters, Avery had to work on getting into character from the very beginning because, admittedly, she’s not too crazy about pink.
“I really don’t like pink all that much,” Avery said. “But I went out and bought a pink skirt and wore it to every practice. I put (my) hair up into two pigtails. That really helped me get into character. I also have to remember that I’m (playing) a little kid.”
Perhaps, the biggest obstacle Avery faced was losing her voice last week. Be it stress or sinus problems, Avery literally could not sing or speak. But she wouldn’t let that stop her. She still showed up to every practice to get the other work, such as stage directions, learned and perfected.
“Willa, my director, had to read my part for me while we did the blocking and moving around,” Avery said. “That was really challenging because I’ve never lost my voice before. It was really difficult to get through that.”
Folmar herself remembers what it was like to be in Avery’s shoes. The 20-year-old Davidson College student grew up with Matthews Playhouse, performing in shows for more than 10 years. And being back here directing her first show for the Playhouse is a surreal feeling, she said.
“It’s really special to come back as an adult and direct,” Folmar said. “I remember, as a kid, looking up to the older kids at the Playhouse when I was younger, and the fact that the role has changed has been very exciting and special, and I hope they’ll let me do something again.”
Folmar said her hopes for the show are that people can enter a world of imagination that’s as enjoyable as it is whimsical.
“There’s never a dull moment, always something going on onstage,” she said. “It’s like a trip for your imagination, and it’s something people of any age can relate to.”
For more information about Matthews Playhouse, ticket costs and show times, visit www.matthewsplayhouse.com.