SHOW BUSINESS REVIEW

by SAMANTHA TUCKER

With Hannah Montana and High School Musical taking over the big and little screens, it was only a matter of time before a tween-aimed spectacle made it to the off-Broadway stage. In the new musical Wanda's World, the title character is a 13-year-old girl who dreams of being a famous talk-show host and helping other kids fix their problems. Unfortunately, Wanda has her own problem: she has a birthmark on her face, and her callous peers taunt her relentlessly and only get to know her skin deep. The story isn't exactly new, and Wanda's World has all of the obvious characters: the awkward outcast, the mean cheerleader, the hot jock, and the pushy but passionate teachers. But a stellar cast, and a surprisingly witty and sweet script by Eric H. Weinberger, keeps the show charming, not cheesy.

Sandie Rosa is a perfect Wanda, a lovable everygirl with an amazing singing voice to boot. But it's Valerie Wright as Ms. Dingleberry, the hilarious Irish Spanish teacher, who steals every scene she's in. Beth Falcone's music and lyrics are not only catchy and fun for the tweens, but also amusing and entertaining for the adults.

Wanda's World is definitely a show for the younger set, but it's enjoyable for parents as well. It's a great way to get the kids off the couch — and to see past Zac Efron's hair gel and enjoy some live talent. Nine-year-old audience member Lily Redstone exclaimed, "I liked it better than High School Musical. It had more of a purpose and was more realistic. Even though someone looks different, that doesn't mean you should tease them about it." Well said, Lily.