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A Family Musical


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Being yourself is the simple but powerful message of Dandelion. Dandelion is a shy, awkward teenage lion who is afraid he won’t be liked if he comes to Jennifer Giraffe’s party looking the way he always does in his ratty old sweater and mangy mane. He decides to get a make-over, which includes a new corduroy jacket, a perm and manicure, and he buys roses for his hostess to impress her and his classmates. But when he shows up at Jennifer’s door, she doesn’t recognize him in his fancy get-up and slams the door in his face, upset by an earlier gate-crasher Roscoe, Dandelion’s lion cousin and middle school bully. Outside Jennifer’s door Dandelion gets caught in a sudden downpour and his jacket is ruined, his mane uncurled, and his roses blown away. Moaning over his misfortunate of missing the party, he pulls up a handful of wild dandelions in frustration. When Jennifer hears animal sounds outside, she opens the door and now recognizes Dandelion who looks like his “old self” in his ratty sweater and mangy mane, and gladly welcomes him in. Dandelion sheepishly offers Jennifer the wilted weeds and discovers that she loves dandelions and is allergic to roses. When the guests tell him how an outlandishly-bedecked lion came to the door, he confesses he was that silly lion. Jennifer reassures him that she likes him just the way he is. 

In addition to the theme of appreciating “the real you,” the musical addresses the important issues of bullying and the hurt that results from the exclusion of outsiders. Regarding the latter, the show addresses “racial profiling” where a whole group is ostracized just because one person in the group is a “bad apple.” In this case, Roscoe terrorizes Jennifer’s little brother Toby in the school yard and steals his cookies for the party when he is returning home from the store. In turn, Toby runs into Dandelion and announces that all lions are bad and tells Dandelion he is not welcome at the party. At first Dandelion is deterred from attending until encouraged by Pippa the parrot to be brave like a lion. Toby’s fears turn into a teachable moment when Jennifer convinces him that not all lions are bad, and at the end of the show, even Roscoe redeems himself.



A Family Musical

Book and Lyrics: Joan Ross Sorkin

Music by Mary Liz McNamara

Adapted from the children’s book by Don Freeman

Reading, Mary Rodgers Room, Dramatists Guild, 2019