Kimberly Akimbo Review

Julia Weisfield, Staff Writer

The new Broadway musical “Kimberly Akimbo,” based on the play of the same name by David Lindsay-Abaire, follows a 15-year-old girl with a terminal disease that causes her to age five times faster than the average person. The small cast and theater make the show quite intimate, and I enjoyed diving into Victoria Clark’s character Kimberly Levaco as she navigates health, friendship, love and family. However, the author’s intent could have been made more apparent. The abrupt tonal shifts made it difficult to understand the true message; scenes jump from hilarious to depressing without established transitions. The incorporation of tax fraud, a family scandal involving murder, sexually confused show choir teenagers and the frequent involvement of anagrams made the show overwhelming.

While the show demonstrated empathy concerning Levaco’s illness, most of the more profound messages are only conveyed in scenes exploring her family life. Her father, played by Steven Boyer, is a hypocritical alcoholic. He hardly lives up to his responsibilities, as seen when he forgets to pick Kimberly up after a long day in the opening scene. Her mother, played by Alli Mauzey, is a narcissistic hypochondriac that rarely takes time to acknowledge Kimberly’s struggles. The best character by far was Kimberly’s Aunt Debra, played by Bonnie Milligan. Although the plot is entertaining, the show would not have made it nearly as far without the addition of Aunt Debra’s role. Funny and extremely enthusiastic, Milligan steals the show.

The true beauty of the show is not its vocals nor its humor but how it makes you feel. Kimberly’s life expectancy in the show makes one take on an appreciative outlook on life and walk away grateful. Unfortunately, I doubt that is enough to attract crowds for a long time. The show is fun to watch and well-acted, but the songs are mediocre, the set lacks impact, the score isn’t catchy and the actors did not portray the emotional depth expected of Broadway. Nevertheless, it is endearing and witty.

As Broadway comes back to life after the pandemic, “Kimberly Akimbo” lacks the extravagance and emotional gravity to bring back crowds. However, for those who want a meaningful experience that may not be around for long, it is worth checking out on a visit to the Great White Way.