Julianne Moore is tickled pink about a glowing early review of a new musical based on her "Freckleface Strawberry" children's book.
Then again, it was from her daughter.
The actress recently took 8-year-old Liv to a performance of "Freckleface Strawberry: The Musical" and was delighted to discover that she didn't once have to bribe her daughter with sweets to stay still.
"When kids watch shows, they're not very quiet. Usually when I bring my kids to a musical, whenever there's a ballad, they ask for more candy," Moore said Thursday. "She didn't turn to me once."
The off-Broadway musical is adapted from Moore's best-selling adventures of a 7-year-old relentlessly teased by her schoolmates for having bright red hair and freckles, something Moore knows a lot about.
"I think what they did is absolutely charming," she said. "It's not so easy. I mean, it's a picture book. It's a small book. To make it into a show that lasts an hour and a half and maintain the message — a very simple, childhood message — I think is pretty phenomenal."
Now showing at New World Stages, the show features a cast of seven adult professionals and officially opens Oct. 1. The music and lyrics were written by Gary Kupper, with a book by Kupper and Rose Caiola.
Caiola, who runs the Manhattan Youth Ballet as well as the Manhattan Movement&Arts Center, got the project up and running when she came across Moore's first book and thought it would be perfect to workshop with children. To mount it as a real theatrical event, she decided to cast adults, including Hayley Podschun ("Pal Joey," ''Hairspray") as Strawberry.
Moore, the 49-year-old star of such adult dramas as "A Single Man," ''Boogie Nights" and "Hannibal," has tried to let the producers mount their adaptation without too much interfering.
"They've been incredibly receptive to all of my notes," she says. "I certainly never expected it to be a production of this scale."
Caiola said Moore's tweaks have helped: "She's really agreed with most of what we've done. Little notes here and there have helped to make the show better," she said. "She gave me this wonderful opportunity and I want to make her happy."
The musical, which includes original songs such as "I Can Be Anything" and "Different," stays close to the message Moore hopes to convey in her books: Be happy being who you are.
"There are things about yourself that you're not going to like necessarily. What we hope will go away as children doesn't always go away," said the actress, who has finished work on a third "Freckleface" book and plans a fourth. "I hoped my freckles would go away. They didn't. They're still here. I still don't like them, but they don't loom as large a problem in my life any more because I have other things that are more important."
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