One of the hands-down best privileges of being a kid: temper tantrums. Face first on the bed or floor (or surface of choice), tiny fists clenched, just wailing. To hell with the drool, the tears were flying free and easy. Whatever brought it on was serious, aggravating and quite possibly the worst thing that could ever happen to you (that day). Who knew little kiddy legs were so powerful and were capable of displacing all bedclothes and accoutrements? Who knew a child could hit such shrieking pitches and guttural moans in the same breath? Who knew such great theatrics could come to a screeching halt and be silenced with one bodily function...a yawn.
No kid can ever get the energy up again after that oxygenating breath. But every kid tries. In comparison with the prior performance, what follows is a pitiful whimper that belittles the teeniest of toddlers. Then, to the delight of all members of the household, comes the thoroughly rejuvenating sleep and subsequently a complete lack of memory regarding the tantrum or its catalyst.
Alexander is primed for a tantrum. The title character of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst, is no doubt a familiar friend in the house of anyone with children since the book's publication in 1972. Based on Viorst's own son, the classic has for years helped little ones understand that bad days happen, and all bad days end. Armed with a mean scowl and disdain for lima beans and kissing, Alexander goes up against some heavy hitters on his bad day. Gum in his hair and a cavity are but two of his woes proven to be universal in the elementary school society.
Dallas Children's Theater puts the crabby cad onstage for a little real-life inspiration. The DCT takes on the musical version of the story adapted by the author and musician Shelly Markham and doesn't disappoint. The music jumps from reggae to waltz and from jazz to ballad. Colorful sets and characters fasten a young eye on the live-action events of Alexander's ill-fated 24, proving Viorst's stage adaptation passes the abbreviated-attention-span test of children's theater. Of course, the DCT is essentially bringing to life things that for years have only happened in a child's imagination, and while that's a tall order, the resulting performance can be a thrilling experience to a kid seeing those ideas come into fruition. They should really call it the Dallas Children's Theater presents Alexander and the Musical, Fantastical, Real Good, Very Cool Play.
At the risk of sounding corny (yes, corny), this show is entertainment for the whole family, and on several levels. Just think, taking the rug rats to see Alexander just might squelch a tantrum and introduce one of the greatest privileges of being a parent: the ability to have basis of comparison (personal or otherwise) with which to stifle whatever complaint or "that's not fair" coming from the mouths of babes.