“Girl’s Who Wear Glasses” – Childsplay

This review aired on KBAQ March 16, 2015


Childsplay, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

Childsplay develops charming plays that have a great teaching message and re-enforce serious life lessons for young kids.  But, unlike too many children’s theaters, Childsplay always employs enough theatrical panache and flair that the learning tools are entertaining.  That generalization applies to Childsplay’s current production, “Girls Who Wear Glasses.”

Local playwright Anne Negri wrote the play that is having its world premiere here and she crafts a captivating tale about accepting differences between people because that is what makes life fascinating.

We meet Mira as she heads for her first day of middle school with friends who don’t all initially bless their differences as they struggle to be clones of each other to be accepted.  Mira’s need for glasses force the friends to come to terms with the need to accept differences to stress the play’s valuable lesson.

Director Debra K. Stevens staging mediocrity doesn’t help the show.  Too often, Stevens lines up the three girls in a row where they stand almost immobile for long periods of time.  Not only is this uncharacteristic of vibrant young girls but it makes for too many boringly bland stretches in the play. It’s not the simple set that functions effectively for dual locales or the four performers who play their roles with relaxed precision.

Kaleena Newman sparkles as Mira as she insists that her friends find fault with her wearing glasses and they babble ridiculous reasons as Mira stresses that differences keep things interesting.  Kate Haas plays the two adult roles, Mira’s mom and the teacher, and she handles both roles with loving but firm sincerity.  Jamie Sandomire and Osiris Cuen play the friends with staunch independence initially until they realize that differences don’t distract.

“Girls Who Wear Glasses” is a thoughtful play, well performed by the acting ensemble but that cries out for more creative directorial spark to intensify the play and give it more impact for audiences.  “Girls Who Wear Glasses” continues through March 29 at the Tempe Center for the Arts.  For tickets, call the Tempe Center for the Arts box office at 480-350-2822 ext. 0 or order tickets online at www.childsplayaz.org.

Grade: C