Open Circle Theater, 382-4250. Through Aug 12.
I'm not going to say that I didn't like this earnest revival of the politically correct children's musical (penned by feminist icon Marlo Thomas), because that would prove that I am a grump with a lump of irony where my heart should be. Let's just say that I didn't get it. Maybe it's because when this show was popular, my single mom was too exhausted after working seven menial jobs to come home and cook us a hot meal, never mind croon "Parents Are People" to me. Though I'm sure I'd be a more well-adjusted person if she had.
But I digress. Just because I'm not familiar with Free to Be... doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of aging hipsters out there who get misty at the memory of these catchy ditties about personal fulfillment. But here's where I get confused about Open Circle's intent. Is this meant for nostalgia-crazed Gen-Xers taking a break from surfing eBay trying to find their old Fat Albert lunch box? Or is it intended for actual little people?
If it's for real kids, then what the hell were they thinking? Sure, they've gamely painted some murals on the hallway, but it's still a strange and thoroughly adult space to bring a bunch of kids at night. Open Circle should have gone to daycares and schools with this. The kids would surely go nuts over it--the performers all have lovely singing voices, the choreography and staging are charming, and everybody seems to be thoroughly invested.
Which is, sadly, what's vaguely creepy for us grownups. I'm made uncomfortable by sweaty, thirtysomething actors wearing Converse sneakers and plastic barrettes in their hair, bouncing around and pretending to be babies. Unless, of course, I'm drinking beer at Re-bar and one or more of them are drag queens. But what do I know? When I saw Free to Be... a combat-boot-wearing mom with an elfin adolescent daughter sang along with the entire show. Hell, maybe I'm just bitter, huh?