Members say: Great singing, Delightful, Entertaining, Relevant, Funny

About the show

Encores! Off-Center revives Kirsten Childs’ 2000 musical about the journey of a young African-American dancer. Starring Tony winner Nikki M. James.

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A black dancer finds her way from West Coast suburbia to Broadway, all while navigating the politics of race and gender in an attempt to uncover her own identity. This staged concert is part of 2017 Encores! Off-Center season showcasing lesser-known Off-Broadway musicals.

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New York City Center

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Playbill Club
$25 - $125
through 7/27
$40 - $75
through 7/27


$40 - $60 Orchestra


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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews


"James is onstage pretty much the entire time, and every minute of it she’s an absolute joy to watch...O'Hara brings to the fore the exuberant energy and bright irreverence that make 'The Bubbly Black Girl' pop, and helps make it one of the zippiest, funniest shows you can see right now. And one of the best sung. James is in very fine voice, and she gets sterling support from the ensemble." Full Review


"Many of the songs and scenes in 'Bubbly Black Girl' feel like they were written in direct response to today...The strength of Childs's book derives from the childlike propensity for openly discussing those things that most adults have the good sense to avoid...Director Robert O'Hara smartly does little to dissipate that discomfort, resulting in a concert presentation that is as dramatically compelling as it is tuneful...The staging also benefits from a remarkable performance by James." Full Review

The New York Times

"Little on NY stages right now is as much flat-out fun...Has lost nothing of its high spirits—or, sadly, of its relevance...Material that is wonderfully motley and personal...The result, for all its idiosyncrasy, rings authentic...O’Hara’s production favors the kind of wild spontaneity you find in his own plays over a more tucked-in approach. Combined with the short rehearsal time, that leaves 'Bubbly Black Girl' a bit ragged in places, though never when it sings." Full Review

New York Theater

“One of the most remarkable aspects of Childs’ debut musical is that the racism that Bubbly witnesses and experiences is woven into a show that is full of satire, given hilarious expression in this production by the director, Robert O’Hara...But the satire is folded into an all-around entertainment. Childs melodic songs range from jazz to funk to gospel to Broadway ballads…Another highlight of this production was Byron Easley’s choreography…A triumph and a delight in every way.” Full Review

AM New York

"It is a smart, unusual and interesting show and an ideal programming choice for the Off-Center series...With an outsize smile and big voice, James more than captures Viveca’s sunny personality, sincerity and innocence...The score has some catchy pop/R&B sections, but is mostly forgettable, and the book scenes can be meandering...But the key idea behind the explored by Childs with great humor and honesty." Full Review

Magical MissTari Tour

"I had a great time at 'Bubbly Black Girl'...The music is just filled with joy, I don't know how else to describe it. It's as thought-provoking as it is joyful, though. Even when 'Bubbly Black Girl' tackles tough subjects, which it does...the musical presents these serious moments with clear-eyed honesty, yet you still feel the affection for these characters...Nikki M. James is a delight as Viveca, so so funny and smart...The direction and the choreography are just first-rate." Full Review


"Played brilliantly by James...this Viveca is a three-dimensional character whose journey has resonance...The cast is strong across the board...Childs’s book and lyrics are stronger than her work here as composer. The songs...have funny, clever lyrics, but the music tends toward excessive repetition...Encores! Off-Center productions must grapple with finding just the right tone...In this regard, O’Hara and choreographer Easley have been quite successful." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Funny, Quirky

See it if You have discounted tickets and want to see something different and like shows dealing with identity.

Don't see it if you want an all around good show, it has great elements I just don't think it works as a whole,

Confusing, Disappointing, Slow, Dated

See it if you like Nikki M James and you want something with the premise of addressing race issues without actually tackling them.

Don't see it if You prefer something more thought-provoking or deeper on race, politics, and society.

Absorbing, Delightful, Great singing

See it if you love a still relevant biographical musical!

Don't see it if you don't enjoy a musical revival!

Delightful, Intelligent, Relevant, Great singing, Great staging

See it if See an overlooked show with a great cast and great staging

Don't see it if Like more traditional musicals

Disappointing, My high expectations fell flat!!!

See it if you are a fan of Kristen Childs' musical theater work.

Don't see it if you were expecting the dynamite explosion that the Playwrights Horizon 2000 production was when it it the stage.

Also [Side note: I saw the 2000 Playwrights Horizon production of this show... Read more Read less

Confusing, Overrated, Slow

See it if you're interested in one American girl's African-American experience in a Caucasian world.

Don't see it if you prefer Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Relevant, Resonant, Great singing

See it if you love terrific musicals that are about self-discovery and identity. I was so taken by this musical.

Don't see it if You only love the big Broadway show stopper musicals

Ambitious, Great acting, Quirky, Relevant, Great staging

See it if Childs' semi-autobiographical musical of growing up in early civil rights era Sassy music darkened by O'Hara's deft staging James a knockout

Don't see it if Rough edges don't necessarily hurt but make for a little choppiness & 2nd Act meanders somewhat but a great production of still timely piece

Quirky, Great songs

See it if you enjoy the range of styles Kirsten Childs brings to her songs, you want to see some masterful second act performances.

Don't see it if the first act is a bit long but is redeemed by a strong second act, you have a problem with some purposefully uncomfortable humor.

Great acting, Disappointing, Dated, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you want to hear some superb singers. Want to see a very strong cast. Are a fan of Nikki M. James.

Don't see it if you want to see a show with a lot of choreography, Expect to see a show with even pacing that'll keep you invested. Want memorable music.

Also I saw the show on opening night and I'm not sure if it was because of ... Read more Read less

Delightful musical tale of a singular black girl/woman

See it if Captivating musical about a bright LA black girl who wants to be a dancer and white. Her eagerness to please melts away when she gets to NY

Don't see it if limited production -- only 2 perfs-- perfect for off-Bway transfer. Nikki James nails the part. Many other outstanding perfs.

Also When Nikki James appeared to spurn the aggressive advances of the gorg... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Clever, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Great singing

See it if you enjoy rarely performed yet worthy musicals done with a topnotch cast

Don't see it if you aren't open for something a little different

Also Nikki M. James was fantastic and I'm fast becoming a big fan of both C... Read more Read less

Dated, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you want to see a show that is not well known but allows for some great performances.

Don't see it if you don't want to see dated shows.

Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You like musicals and a very talented cast in a big, bawdy musical

Don't see it if You don's like musicals

Delightful, Intelligent, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you like pleasnat dancing and singing. Nikki James is a delight. I like it better thanwhen we saw it at Playwrights ages ago.

Don't see it if you expect a production on a par with the ENCORES broadway productions. Also, two performance are not enough.

Funny, Slow, Great singing

See it if Fun at times coming of age story

Don't see it if You want a Fast pace show with great music

Also It was slow for me and wasn't what I expected. It was slow at times an... Read more Read less

Disappointing, Dated

See it if you are a child of the 1960s and are nostalgic for that period; you want to see something rarely produced; you value new talent.

Don't see it if you expect some insights into the era or a well scripted production; good singing and dancing but not enough to keep you engaged for hours.

Exciting, Resonant, Great writing, Messy, Not the best production

See it if you're able to see past some VERY uneven performances and odd staging choices to the actual show itself, which is extremely interesting.

Don't see it if you're expecting a more fully staged Encores show--there were a LOT more scripts and music stands than any other recent Encores production.

Delightful, Great acting, Quirky, Relevant, Great singing

See it if you are interested in seeing a story performed by an outstanding cast that is as relevant today as the day it was written.

Don't see it if you have issues with sounds -- City Center's sound mixing/the productions sound design has issues.

Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging, Great choreography

See it if you like incredible singing & choreography.Nikki James is amazing.I have problem with the show's basic premise; I think being nice is good!

Don't see it if you are expecting good lighting or sound. I was in the 5th row and missed a lot of the lyrics.Balance was WAY off.

Delightful, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great singing

See it if You want an enjoyable, entertaining experience that also makes some resonant points on race and identity. Great performances.

Don't see it if You are hoping for a full production rather than a concert-style performance. You aren't interested in a frank discussion of race.

Delightful, Refreshing, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if you want to see a bravura performance from Nikki James. Triple threat: acting, dancing, singing.

Don't see it if you need to see a fully staged musical. This more a concert version (as advertised).

Funny, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if you're at all interested in a girl growing up black in America in the late 20th century.

Don't see it if you're expecting a fully staged musical with a great score; this is neither of those things.

Delightful, Enchanting, Refreshing, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if Perfect Encores Off-Center production of essentially a Mary Tyler Moore sitcom as musical; breezy direction and talented cast raises bar

Don't see it if Can be viewed as a fluffy dessert without much heft; serviceable score is fun but essentially forgettable

Story 'bout black girl trying to find identity a bit ragged but nikki james as bubbly charms your pants off

See it if tells important story girl caught btwn black/white worlds in '60s forward, songs cleverly parody '60s tunes, fine ensemble dancing

Don't see it if lyrics and book not up to level of music; bubbly black girl problem resolved by becoming less bubbly, duh!; disappointing concert version

Cast & Creatives (20)