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The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

Horizon

The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

Horizon

“Kimberly Akimbo” Review: A Weird, Must-See Musical

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Stacey Krivitsky

While a musical about a lonely teenage girl with a chronic medical condition may not initially sound like the typical Broadway sensation, Kimberly Akimbo, winner of the 2023 Tony Award for Best Musical, proves to be a surprising experience that challenges expectations. Originally written as a play in 2000 by David Lindsay-Abaire, the newly adapted musical production is starring at the Booth Theatre after an acclaimed run at the Atlantic Theatre Company. With lyrics by Lindsay-Abaire and music by Jeanine Tesori, the unconventional musical is a definite must-see before it takes its final bow on April 28.

Navigating the complexities of the teenage years can often feel like a life-or-death scenario, but Kimberly Levaco is actually running out of time. Sixteen-year-old Kimberly (played by Victoria Clark) suffers from an unnamed, incredibly rare genetic disorder (similar to progeria) that accelerates her aging process by four to five times the normal rate, resulting in her resembling a woman in her mid-sixties during her teenage years. Unfortunately, Kimberly has reached the year she is statistically most likely to die from her disease.

Set in suburban New Jersey in 1999, Kimberly’s journey to a new town in Bergen County presents its own set of challenges. Beyond the physical burden of resembling an old lady, Kimberly grapples with the additional hardship of navigating her chaotic family dynamic; she faces an especially difficult time with her narcissistic, neglectful, self-involved parents and must act as the grownup in her household. Her mother, Pattie (played by Alli Mauzey), is pregnant again and dreams of a ‘normal’ child, and her father, Buddy (played by Steven Boyer), is an alcoholic full of false promises.

Kimberly’s world becomes a little brighter with the emergence of a heartwarming friendship with her classmate Seth (played by Justin Cooley). Despite his unconventional quirks, such as his passion for playing the tuba and his love for solving puzzles and anagrams, Seth’s genuine nature shines through his playful and curious antics, like rearranging her name into “Cleverly Akimbo,” which Kimberly finds joy in.

The narrative also follows four other classmates who perform in show choir together: Delia (played by Olivia Elease Hardy), Martin (played by Fernell Hogan), Aaron (played by Michael Iskander), and Teresa (played by Nina White). Much like Kimberly and Seth, the quartet are the naïve outsiders of the school and spend a lot of time at the local Skater Planet rink, trying to escape from the struggles of fitting in.

The highlight of the story is Kimberly’s criminal aunt, Debra (played by Bonnie Milligan). Debra entangles Kimberly and Seth as well as the quartet into an elaborate check-forging scheme so that everyone’s desires can come true: Debra seeks financial gain, the choir yearns new costumes for the upcoming competition, and Kimberly, confronting her own mortality, wants to fulfill a final dream—taking a road trip around the world with her family.

During a biology class presentation on Kimberly’s aging condition, a poignant moment unfolds as Kimberly and Seth confront the harsh reality together. It is a sad realization for Kimberly that while her classmates have the ability to grow out of adolescence, Kimberly is denied the chance to witness her transformation into adulthood. With each passing moment, and her family drama only getting worse, Kimberly realizes that she must take charge of her own life, rather than expecting others to change first.

Although Kimberly Akimbo features a small cast of actors, each of them bring immense energy to their performances that fill the Booth Theatre. Clark’s portrayal of Kimberly is a true standout; her mannerisms and voice are perfectly believable as a 16-year-old, despite her real-life age of 64. Co-starring alongside her, Cooley delivers an equally compelling performance as the shy and quirky high school crush, Seth. Meanwhile, Milligan stands out as the vocal powerhouse of the cast, adding a delightful blend of humor and depth to the production.

In a departure from Broadway’s traditional spectacle of dazzling dance routines and elaborate sets, Kimberly Akimbo offers a contemporary take with its focus on a simple yet profound narrative about the essence of life and death. What starts as a tumultuous family living in the small region of Bergen County evolves into a touching journey for Kimberly as she grapples with the finite nature of her existence. The show encourages audiences to live life to the fullest even in the face of obstacles that threaten to overshadow it. Although the premise of dying by age 16 might seem unconventional for a musical comedy, the Broadway production of Kimberly Akimbo proves to be just as rare and lovable as Kimberly Levaco herself.

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About the Contributor
Hi! My name is Stacey Krivitsky. I am a member of the Class of 2025 and an A&E Editor. Aside from Horizon, I am in Science Bowl Club, Women in STEM Club, and the science research program.