Produced by EMS Entertainment & Mattel Live Entertainment
Palais Theatre April 5, 6, 7, 2014
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on April 5
Barbie™ Live! The Musical has a captive audience of tiny girls wearing pink, fluffy tutus and wielding twinkly, twirly toys while waiting excitedly for Barbie to appear.
In a story by Diane Rodriguez with songs by Robbie Roth, Barbie (Chelsea Bernier), now a movie star, is rehearsing a Hollywood musical with a cast that includes her under-confident, best friend, Teresa (Kristina Miller).
Barbie™ Live! is as sweetly pink as fairy floss and littered with life lessons based on stories from Barbie’s own movies that she retells to encourage Teresa to be brave, strong and happy to be herself.
Teresa is tormented not only by her lack of confidence, but also by nasty, competitive Raquelle (Courtney Cheatham) and her wacky sidekick, the make-up gal, Peg Pincushion (Rebecca Warm).
The cheery lyrics and perky, pop tunes (Rise Above It All, Get Your Sparkle On, Be A Friend) are accompanied by energetic, albeit unoriginal choreography (Kobi Rozenfeld), while the movie rehearsals resemble pop videos that are familiar to most children.
The second half avoids the crowded stage and busy choreography of the first, hitting the right note for the audience of mostly 3 to 7 year-old girls by focussing on intimate scenes between Barbie and Teresa playing their characters, Princess Victoria and Keira the pop star.
Some simple slapstick falls, performed by two royal footman, have the children shrieking with laughter as does the limited audience participation with villainous Raquelle and the princess’s aunt – the show needs more of this, please.
The children seem distracted during the dense dialogue in the first half, much of which goes over their heads, but they are drawn back by two animated films about Odette, the brave swan from Swan Lake, and two fairies, Mariposa and Catania.
Bernier, a talented singer-dancer, brings the famous Barbie doll to life as a pretty, sunny and caring girl who, despite her celebrity status, is generous, gracious and well mannered in all her roles.
Miller, also a capable singer-dancer, is chirpy and anxious as Teresa, and cheerfully brash as pop star, Keira.
Cheatham’s Raquelle is amusingly spiteful, jealous and sneaky – not a positive role model
for the littlies but she’s the one we love to hate, just like a cruel, soap opera queen.
Rebecca Warm is goofily mischievous as both Peg and the princess’s regal aunt, Nick Bernardi camps it up as movie director, Max von Ego, Austin Johns is adoring and mild-mannered as Ken, and Keir Kirkegaard’s Danny, the choreographer, is smilingly unassuming.
Hopefully the children remember the lessons about being courageous, considerate and self-assured and not just the ambition to be a pop star, a princess or a blonde, plastic doll.
By Kate Herbert
Chelsea Bernier as Barbie
Kristina Miller as Teresa
Director & Choreographer - Kobi Rozenfeld
Diane Rodriguez - Book
Robbie Roth - Composer, Co-Lyricist & Music Director
Stanley A. Meyer -Set Design
Jesse Blevins & Peter Mors - Lighting Design
Kobi Rozenfeld: Beyonce's world tour and So You Think You Can Dance judge
Stanley A. Meyer: Elton John's hit musical, Aida
Robbi Roth: Flashdance musical; Billboard chart
Jesse Blevins & Peter Morse: Lighting design for Michael Jackson, Lenny Kravitz, New Kids on the Block