Review: 'Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical' is the Next Great Multi-Generational Show

Chris Peterson

  • OnStage Editor-in-Chief

It's not often that a musical comes along that might initially look like a typical children's show, but where the music is unlike anything you've heard before and the messages within the piece resonate across all ages. Off the top of my head, I can only think of a couple such as Honk! and You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown! But we can add one more to that illustrious list, Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical. 

With its catchy, upbeat score and poignant themes, this musical is on its way to be a surefire standard for regional and educational theaters alike. 

Based on the historical events of the Little Rock Nine, Polkadots tells the story of Lily Polkadot just as she has relocated to the “Squares Only” small town of Rockaway. As the first Polkadot to attend the school, Lily is faced with the distaste of Penelope Square and the realization that she will have to drink from a new “polkadot pump” instead of the “square sprinkler.” But the courageous Lily finds her way to acceptance with the help of her new friend, Sky Square. The lesson here is that we should embrace our differences, not let them divide us. 

Usually messages like these become cliche and campy however composers Douglas Lyons(lyrics) and Greg Borowsky masterfully make these themes clear without making them heavy handed. It also doesn't hurt that the music is fantastic. 

From its synth-pumping opening number, "First Day", you realize quickly that this isn't your typical children's show. Numbers like "One Pal" and "Cool Kid" exemplify the very best of contemporary musical theatre stylings today. The fourth-wall breaking "Finale" is surprisingly moving as well. 

It's no secret that more material like this is needed now more than ever. Proof of that is how quick productions of Polkadots are popping up all over the country. I highly recommend taking a look at this piece. "Embrace your cool."

For more info about Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical, visit

Photo: Tyla Collier as Lily Polkadot, Shelby Ringdahl as Ms. Square, Nicole Loewenstein, and PJ Adzima as Sky Square. Photo Credit: Pavel Denisenko