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The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin

From 7 critic and 40 member reviews
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. More…

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.

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


"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

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


"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

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


"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

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if You enjoy songs that make you think. The juxtaposition of the "dark" subject matter with the Bubbly tone of the music is really affective.

Don't see it if You don't like Strong Black female leads and honest conversations about race.

Delightful, Entertaining, Great staging, Great singing, 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, 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

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!

Relevant, Delightful, Funny, Profound

See it if Incredibly talented and charismatic cast, particularly Nikki M. James. Very catchy music. I went in knowing little and loved every moment.

Don't see it if The plot is thin, which I noticed more in retrospect as the performances and songs kept everything afloat. More of a series of vignettes.

Delightful, Great singing, Quirky, Refreshing, Insightful/intentional

See it if you love Kirsten Childs' work, enjoy a smart, campy musical tackling Black female identities and the ways others can influence us

Don't see it if Sadly only a 2-show run at Encores! Not fully-staged, a few rough edges, but still a *delightful*, exuberant production.

Also Since seeing Bella: An American Tall Tale, I've been itching for someo... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Relevant, Quirky

See it if unfortunately you can't see it anymore, but give it a listen if you are looking for thorough and honest commentary on discrimination

Don't see it if the sound quality was poor when I saw it and I missed a lot of the lyrics

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

Profound, Funny, Delightful, Clever, Absorbing

See it if You want to watch a well-acted, fun and thought-provoking musical.

Don't see it if You are expecting a traditional musical with big musical numbers.

Delightful, Funny, Great singing, Relevant, Resonant

See it if you enjoy musicals highlighting several outstanding voices.

Don't see it if you are offended by racial slurs.

Great singing, Relevant, Resonant

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

Clever, Ambitious, Quirky, Thought-provoking, 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

Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing, Intelligent

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.

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

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.

Entertaining, Funny, Relevant, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

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, Intelligent, Fluffy, Refreshing, Cute

See it if you want a fun story, a great performance, and a feel good show that will still make you stop and think a bit.

Don't see it if you are looking for a night of "serious" theater- this show is light and enjoyable

Ambitious, Great staging, Relevant, Quirky, Great acting

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

Delightful, Great singing, Great acting, Refreshing, Relevant

See it if You want an engaging look at how far we've come (and haven't) in the race and gender game.

Don't see it if You only want discussions about diversity in the 'modern climate'

Also It's fascinating how this piece that's a few decades old is the most s... Read more Read less

Delightful, Great staging, Great singing, Intelligent, Relevant

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

Don't see it if Like more traditional musicals

Great songs, Quirky

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.

Delightful, Entertaining, Enchanting, Hilarious, Refreshing

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

Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing, Refreshing

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, Great singing, Great staging, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to explore themes of race and identity through coming of age in LA and NYC; Nikki M James is amazing . . .

Don't see it if you do not have a sense of humor

Delightful, Great singing, Great acting, Quirky, Relevant

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, Funny, Great singing, Relevant

See it if You want a fun score and a musical relevant to modern day issues. Nikki M James shines as does the whole cast.

Don't see it if The plot is thin but the score moves it along nicely and keeps your interest

Cast & Creatives (20)