Sunday, September 03, 2017

KING, SENDAK, CASEL: SEEING REALLY ROSIE AT CITY CENTER



I was excited to see Really Rosie at City Center for multiple reasons:  First, I was familiar in a general way with the musical because a group of my friends had been in a production of Really Rosie when I was in middle school.  Second, it was based on a book by the late, great author and illustrator Maurice Sendak (of "Where the Wild Things Are" fame) and lyrics by the famed singer/songwriter Carol King. Third, the show was choreographed by Ayodele Casele,  a tap dancer who I had seen perform on several occasions with Savion Glover 20 years ago.  Fourth, the show was comprised of a cast of young people, except for Ayodele, who made a brief appearance, and also for the adults who made up the live orchestral accompaniment and background adult voices of the children's parents.

Typical of Sendak's works in general, the themes in the songs and dialogue were often macabre in nature, focusing on death, bodily harm, or the threat of these things.  While the production was clearly aimed at a young audience, the subject matter seemed more appropriate for adults.

There was a touching post-finale piece where the cast came out holding a banner with Sendak's name and dates of of birth and death on it.  They played an excerpt of a recorded interview with Sendak, where he shared his thoughts, including this one, about children and childhood:

I've always been interested in how children maneuver and decide how to live. It’s hard. I’ve always had a deep respect for children and how they solve complex problems by themselves. I think [they do this] through shrewdness, fantasy and just plain strength; they want to survive. They want to survive. 
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