Actress Julianne Moore’s storybook character comes to life on Civic’s stage

Byron Center's Abbie Westers plays Freckleface Strawberry in Grand Rapids Civic Theatre's upcoming production "Freckleface Strawberry the Musical," running April 22 - May 1.
Byron Center’s Abbie Westers plays Freckleface Strawberry in Grand Rapids Civic Theatre’s upcoming production “Freckleface Strawberry the Musical,” running April 22 – May 1.

Joanne Bailey-Boorsma


When Allyson Paris got hired as the new Grand Rapids Civc Theatre associate director, she learned right away about the spring children’s production Freckleface Strawberry the Musical and immediately went out and purchased all the books in the series.


“I was familiar with the first one but quickly went out and got my hands on all the ones I could find,” said Paris who directs the upcoming show which runs April 22 – May 1.


Freckleface Strawberry the Musical is based on the New York Times best-selling children’s book written by actress Julianne Moore. Moore – whose nickname when a child was Freckleface Strawberry – has stated that the story is based on her childhood memories and those stories have resonated well with both young and old as the original book has now grown into a book series with two apps and the musical. Paris did not know about the apps.


“Oh my gosh, I’ve been schooled,” she said with a laugh. “I’ll have to tell the cast about them. More research.”


Freckleface Strawberry (played by Byron Center’s Abbie Westers who was in Civc’s production of Mary Poppins and Junie B. Jones) is just like every other girl, except she has bright red hair and, according to her, something far worse, freckles. She will do anything to get rid of her freckles until her schoolmates help her learn a valuable lesson: everyone is different and that’s what makes everyone special.


“I feel the message of valuing what makes us different and celebrating ourselves is great for kids,” Paris said, quickly adding “and adults.”


Paris said Freckleface is part of the new generation of musicals. “It’s a smart, funny, musical,” she said. “It is upbeat, modern and really refreshing.


“It also has a broad range. Should you bring your five-year-old, absolutely. Should you bring your 15-year-old, of course.”


And despite it being about a 6-year-old girl, who by the way is kind of tomboyish, Paris can attest that the story is relatable to both boys and girls as her main reading partner with all those books she purchased was her six-year-old son “and he loves the Freckleface books.”


Freckleface Strawberry is a children’s musical appropriate for children ages four and older. The production is an hour long, which Paris noted is great for a first-time theater experience. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, 30 N. Division Ave. It is recommended to arrive at least 30 minutes before the scheduled performance. Tickets are $10 – $16. For more information, visit or call the theater’s box office at 616-222-6650.