Northampton Press

Sunday, January 19, 2020

'Fancy Nancy' no plain Jane

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 by ELIZABETHOUELLETTE Special to The Press in Focus

The popular children's books series, "Fancy Nancy," comes to life for two performances, 1 and 4 p.m. Feb. 22, Miller Symphony Hall, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown.

Sam Viverito, director and choreographer of the musical, believes "Fancy Nancy" stands apart from other children's touring productions because of its message.

"The message is different," Viverito says in a recent phone interview. "It's all about how if you don't get what you want, you can make the best out of what you have.

"That's an important lesson for kids to learn: that everyone will face disappointment in life, but we can learn from it and make something out of it."

Viverito believes the message of the show and the series of books, written by Jane O'Connor and iIllustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, on which it is based, is that of learning and having fun at the same time.

"The kids like the books and so do the parents," he explains. "The parents like that the books teach vocabulary and encourage children to use new and 'fancy' words. The kids like that Nancy is such a fun, wacky character, and that she is true to herself."

Viverito wants people to know that "Fancy Nancy" doesn't play down to the audience.

"It's truly enjoyable for both the kids and the parents. The parents can catch references that the kids won't pick up on, and that makes it a bit more fun for the moms and dads in the audience. One of the most popular songs is 'The Shark Rap,' and that features some of that."

Vital Theatre Company was founded in March 1999 and has been based at the McGinn-Cazale Theatre, New York City, since November 2004. Vital has presented more than 75 original productions for more than 300,000 children and their families.

Vital Theatre Company received the 2012 Off-Broadway Alliance Awards Best Family Show for "StinkyKids The Musical" and the American Theatre Wing Award for Continued Commitment to Excellence in Theatre in 2006 and 2007.

"Fancy Nancy" has a book by Susan DiLallo, with music and lyrics by Dilallo and Danny Abosch. The recording of music from the show won Creative Child Magazine's "2013 CD of the Year Award."

"The music is uptempo. It's high-energy. It's happy," says Viverito.

"The last song, 'Anyone Can Be Fancy,' is really popular with the parents and kids and just makes you smile every time you hear it."