VERO BEACH - Riverside Theatre for Kids will tackle the serious subject of segregation with the 2016 play Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical. Running Oct. 3-5, the play features young actors from around the country.
Writers Douglas Lyons, Melvin Tunstall, III and Greg Borowsky based Polkadots on the true story of six-year-old civil rights pioneer Ruby Bridges, the first African-American child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana in 1960.
According to the play’s website, “Polkadots serves as a colorful history lesson for children, reminding them that our individual differences make us awesome, not outcasts.”
Polkadots tells the story of Lily Polkadot, the first of her kind to live in Rockaway, a town of Squares.
“She’s the first Polkadot that Rockaway has ever had,” said Cassandra Brooks, a young actress from Tennessee who plays bully Penelope Square. “They have all these Squares that all know each other, and are all friends, and Lily can’t seem to find anyone who wants to be her friend, because she’s different, and all of them have always been told that being different is bad. It’s about her trying to overcome all of her obstacles to learn that we’re all just shapes, no matter if we’re a Square or a Polkadot.”
“Penelope Square is kind of the bad guy,” said Ms. Brooks. “She is having a rough time, her life has changed quite a bit, and suddenly this new thing comes in, and she doesn’t know how to handle it. The way she thinks to handle it is to be very mean.”
As the first Polkadot in the “Squares Only” town, Lily struggles against bullying and segregation. She meets Sky, a Square boy who is curious about her unique Polkadot skin. Sky is also the younger brother of the bully Penelope.
“Sky is kind of a shy, nerdy character who loves video games,” said Parker Reeves, a recent graduate of the University of Alabama who plays Sky. “He meets Lily, and finds her different and hard to approach at first, but he’s more open to becoming her friend than some of the other Squares in Rockaway.”
Samantha Young, a young actress from West Virginia, plays Lily Polkadot. Mac Ogle, from Tennessee, plays the dual role of Mrs. Square and Mama Square.
Show times are Oct. 3 at 7 p.m.; Oct. 4 at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.; Oct. 5 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. For tickets, $10, call the box office at (772) 231-6990 or visit on the day of show.
The Riverside Theatre is located at 3250 Riverside Park Dr., Vero Beach. For more information, visit www.riversidetheatre.com/kids-productions.