For anyone whose life doesn't include a young lady, age somewhere between 5 and 12, this show may elicit a "Who knew?" But for those previously exposed to the American Girl doll collection, complete with an unending array of accessories, this charmingly produced, 75-minute musical makes for an enjoyable outing with the child you hold dear. The talented cast consists of seven young performers backed by a tremendously versatile quartet of adult actors. Thanks to Gretchen Cryer's concisely constructed script and lyrics set to Nancy Ford's hummable tunes, this ensemble presents the backstories of nine different dolls.
As Becky, Julianna Rose is efficiently precise when dealing with precocious little sister Michelle, adorably portrayed by Courtney Mauss. Accented by lighting designer Annmarie Duggan's illuminating handiwork, their 1940s era tap-dancing duet, "The Victory Sisters," is a showstopper. Stephanie Allen ably fills the roles of a Scandinavian immigrant in "It's the Same Sun" and a button-cute, Depression-era imp in "If Life Gives You a Lemon." Her adult counterparts in these numbers, Harriet Bennish and Carmen Parks respectively, perfectly complement Rikki Lugo's and Linda Cholodenko's choreography.
Lindsey Jordan, with Robin Hudson as her mother, handles with ease the piece's dramatic saga of Addy, an escaped slave girl, in "Goin' to Freedom." To the haunting melody of "We Will Find a Way," Brianna Provda and Amanda Thompson give lovely voice to the legend of two Native American girls. Provda also cuts quite a rug with actor James Hobert in "Follow Your Heart." Megan Ward's voice shines in the tale of a girl living in Revolutionary War times. And Chloe O'Shannon fills admirably the character of a hesitant visitor to the group who eventually joins in with gusto. The roles, under the guidance of director Mea M. Hack, are multiple-cast.
Music director Scott Harlan's steady hand is evident with harmonies beautifully executed. Sound by Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen, era-perfect costuming by Timberlake Studios, and high-caliber scenic design by Nephelie Andonyadis and Kevin Snow combine for a picture-perfect, technically lush production.
Presented by American Girl Place Theater at the American Girl Theater, 189 The Grove Dr., L.A. Thu.-Fri. 5:30 & 7 p.m., Sat. 12:30, 2, 4 & 5:30 p.m., Sun. 12:30, 2, & 4 p.m. Schedule subject to change. May 5-Indefinite. (877) 247-5223.