SALT LAKE CITY — When I Grow Up is a lovely two-part show, the first half created by and starring Amanda MacDonald, and the second half created by and starring Sara Yanney. Each woman had power in her performance that brought me into their childhoods.
MacDonald started her dance called “Girl Messages” with singing the song “Children Will Listen” by Stephen Sondheim. Then she broke into a fun playful version of Gene Kelly’s dance in Singin’ in the Rain. It was fun to see the familiar dance moves, and as MacDonald finished the voice of her mother came on, teaching her how to be perfect. The ensuing struggle between pleasing mother and being herself was heart-wrenching. At one part, she begins to fight against the authority until she collapses to the ground. When she rises, it is to conform and eventually become manipulative and malicious. It was such a telling story of what I witnessed in myself and others from kindergarten through junior high.
MacDonald’s dancing with and on the chair was a nice contrast, especially when she struck a wonder woman pose standing atop the chair, having overcome all her obstacles. I enjoyed the dance, but at times it seemed a little slow. She had many moments of either slow or repetitive movement that lasted a little too long, resulting in a dance that was not as vibrant as it would have been had it been shorter.
Though Yanney had a different style and used what looked like more technicality in her dancing, her story still fit well with MacDonald’s. Yanny’s intent seemed to be on finding the joy in childhood dreams. Her dancing as a ballerina and swimming in dance were both interesting and beautiful. She had a chair off the the side with various childhood memorabilia all over it which she used throughout the show. One of the funnest parts was when she did her ballerina dance for her stuffed animals, who she set up in an empty chair in the audience, and partway through grabbed her bear to use as a dancing partner, throwing it in the air and tangoing across the stage.
She told the story as she danced which made it more interesting. Yanney revealed that she was divorced and most of her childhood dreams didn’t come to fruition. Yet, she finds a place in her heart for who she is despite all that and is happy with her life. I loved the way Yanny talked to and included the audience. At one point she had me read the tag on her stuffed frog to verify she was telling the truth about where it came from.
When I Grow Up was a beautiful show that left me feeling thoughtful and grateful. It is family friendly, and has a peaceful message, which makes for a good option at the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival.