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"Alexander, Who’s Not (6x) Going to Move"
Alexander’s “no good, very bad” day gets a little worse
By Michael Summers
Fort Wayne Reader
Last year, Fort Wayne Youtheatre’s production of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day was the most successful production in Youtheatre’s entire 73 year history.
So, what does any good production company do? The sequel, of course. When the script to Alexander, Who’s Not, Not, Not, Not, Not Going to Move became available, Youtheatre picked it up. “It’s like the movies,” jokes Harvey Cocks, Youtheatre’s Executive Director. “Like bringing back Shrek again for the third or fourth time. We’ve done the same thing with this script.”
In Alexander, Who’s Not… seven-year-old Alexander comes home one day to discover his father has a great new job. The problem? It’s “a thousand miles away,” and Alexander, his mother, and his two brothers are going to have to move. The rest of the family takes it in stride, but Alexander… “He’s beside himself,” says Harvey Cocks. “He feels he’ll never have a best friend again, he feels he’ll never find a school like the one he’s at now…”
Alexander made his debut in Judith Viorst’s classic book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day back in 1972 (Viorst herself has adapted her Alexander stories for the stage), and he continues to be a very popular character among children, holding his own against the Harry Potters and Shreks of the world.
Part of the appeal is Alexander’s stubbornness. When he’s cranky or angry, he refuses to be placated. In …Not Going to Move, he devises a hundred ways, each more outrageous than the last, to get out of moving. “He first tries to go live with different families,” Cocks says. “He finds he can’t stand to live with Mrs. Oberdorfer, who cleans all the time, or Mrs. Baldwin who runs the grocery store, who doesn’t really like him, or Cobina the costumer, who is kind of wacky… Finally, his friends gather together one day and say ‘you’ve got to go on with this, you’ve got to move, or they’ll make you. Even if you try to hide, they’ll find you, and they’ll make you.’”
It’s actually kind of a sad story, on some level. We know, and all Alexander’s friends know, that Alexander is a kid, and he’s going to have to move. But Alexander tries to avoid moving with such single-minded focus and such disastrous results — practically destroying Mrs. Baldwin’s grocery store, making a mess out of his father’s tent — that you can’t help but laugh.
But Harvey Cocks says he relates a little bit to Alexander’s predicament. As part of a show business family, Cocks says he was moving constantly. He eventually learned what Alexander learns at the end of …Not Going to Move: that home is where the family is. “It relates to every child who has ever been uprooted and had to move,” Cocks says. “It’s very difficult for many kids to do this. That’s what this play is all about.”
Yet even when he acquiesces to his family’s demands, Alexander tells them that he’s doing it just this once, and never again. It’s a funny ending, and underlines another part of Alexander’s appeal — adults aren’t sure what to make of a character who is seven years old and openly defiant of his parents. Cocks says that James Harry, the young actor playing Alexander, pointed out that Alexander spends a lot of his time saying “no,” and that his parents would never have let him get away with that.
Cocks adds: “I had one parent who read the script who came in and said ‘what do you think they’re trying to teach children? To stand up to their parents and say ‘no, I’m not going to do it?’ I said, ‘well, if you look at it from the comedy viewpoint, it’s okay’.”
Alexander, Who’s Not, Not, Not, Not, Not Going to Move
Arts United Center
Saturday, April 21 and Sunday April 22 at 2:00pm
Tickets: $10.00 – adults; $5.00 – students; $8.00 – seniors over 60; $4.00 – School shows per teacher/student