Kirby Center, King’s College present sensory-friendly ‘Freckleface Strawberry’

By Mary Therese Biebel - [email protected]
Ciarán Burke, Maddison Black, Ashley Surdovel, Ericka Law — who plays Freckleface — Liz Masi, John Toussaint and Jonathan Vojtko act out a scene during a dress rehearsal of ‘Freckleface Strawberry — The Musical’ in the lobby of the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre. The family-friendly production also is designed to be sensory-friendly. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Ericka Law, who plays Freckleface, and Amanda Reese, as Freckleface’s mother, perform a scene in the play ‘Freckleface Strawberry.’ Most of the cast members play several roles in the show. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Maddison Black portrays the Ballet Dancer in a scene of the play ‘Freckleface Strawberry’ during a rehearsal at the F.M. Kirby Center. The production is a partnership between the Kirby Center and King’s College. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Ericka Law, of Kingston, portrays the title character, Freckleface Strawberry, who is dismayed to have lots of freckles and red hair. - - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Ericka Law, as Freckleface, acts out her part during rehearsal of ‘Freckleface Strawberry’ at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre. - - Sean McKeag | Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — One little boy likes Greek mythology and bugs. That’s OK.

Another kid has a birthmark on his butt. That’s OK too.

As the title character in the musical “Freckleface Strawberry” learns, it’s also OK to have red hair and freckles. There’s no reason to hide all that bright color under a ski mask.

Families are welcome to attend the musical at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts this weekend — the show is free, but you should make reservations — to watch an enthusiastic young cast perform the story of Strawberry and her friends.

Presented in partnership with King’s College, “Freckleface Strawberry” is a sensory-friendly performance with subdued lighting and sound. It’s designed to provide a comfortable experience for people who may be sensitive to sensory stimuli, such as children and adults who are on the autism spectrum.

To make the atmosphere even more welcoming, director Skyler Makuch said, there will be cushions in front of the stage, which is set up in the Kirby Center’s Chandelier Lobby. It’s OK for audience members to rest there instead of on conventional chairs, said Makuch, a King’s College student from Mountain Top. And it’s OK for them to get up and walk around.

“They’re just like everyone else,” said cast member Ashley Surdovel, a King’s College student from Topton. “A lot of them don’t usually get this (a theatrical experience) because they can’t go to a traditional theater without fear of being judged.”

Acceptance is a recurring theme of the show. As cast member Ciaran Burke, of Wilkes-Barre, sang joyously in a recent dress rehearsal: “Be yourself. You don’t have to be anyone else. Whether you’re a giant or an elf, just be yourself.”

The music is upbeat; the costumes are vibrant; the props are fun.

Cast member Maddison Black, as the Ballet Girl, gets to ride a scooter, and Kingston resident Ericka Law, as Strawberry, gets to ride a bicycle. Several other performers get to use the seesaw.

Among the perks of portraying small children, cast member Jonathan Vojtko said, “We’ve even played tag at rehearsals.”

Showtimes are 10 a.m. Friday, 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Free tickets are available at the Sundance Vacations Box Office at the Kirby Center and by phone at 570-826-1100.

Ciarán Burke, Maddison Black, Ashley Surdovel, Ericka Law — who plays Freckleface — Liz Masi, John Toussaint and Jonathan Vojtko act out a scene during a dress rehearsal of ‘Freckleface Strawberry — The Musical’ in the lobby of the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre. The family-friendly production also is designed to be sensory-friendly.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_Freckleface1.jpgCiarán Burke, Maddison Black, Ashley Surdovel, Ericka Law — who plays Freckleface — Liz Masi, John Toussaint and Jonathan Vojtko act out a scene during a dress rehearsal of ‘Freckleface Strawberry — The Musical’ in the lobby of the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre. The family-friendly production also is designed to be sensory-friendly. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Ericka Law, who plays Freckleface, and Amanda Reese, as Freckleface’s mother, perform a scene in the play ‘Freckleface Strawberry.’ Most of the cast members play several roles in the show.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_Freckleface2.jpgEricka Law, who plays Freckleface, and Amanda Reese, as Freckleface’s mother, perform a scene in the play ‘Freckleface Strawberry.’ Most of the cast members play several roles in the show. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Maddison Black portrays the Ballet Dancer in a scene of the play ‘Freckleface Strawberry’ during a rehearsal at the F.M. Kirby Center. The production is a partnership between the Kirby Center and King’s College.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_Freckleface3.jpgMaddison Black portrays the Ballet Dancer in a scene of the play ‘Freckleface Strawberry’ during a rehearsal at the F.M. Kirby Center. The production is a partnership between the Kirby Center and King’s College. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Ericka Law, of Kingston, portrays the title character, Freckleface Strawberry, who is dismayed to have lots of freckles and red hair.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_Freckleface4.jpgEricka Law, of Kingston, portrays the title character, Freckleface Strawberry, who is dismayed to have lots of freckles and red hair. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Ericka Law, as Freckleface, acts out her part during rehearsal of ‘Freckleface Strawberry’ at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_Freckleface5.jpgEricka Law, as Freckleface, acts out her part during rehearsal of ‘Freckleface Strawberry’ at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre. Sean McKeag | Times Leader
‘Freckleface Strawberry’ takes stage Friday through Sunday

By Mary Therese Biebel

[email protected]

Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT.

Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT.