Zina Goldrich (music) and Marcy Heisler's (book and lyrics) children's musical Dear Edwina has been available for licensing for local productions for over a decade, but it was only scheduled for a commercial production in an off-Broadway theater to begin five days after the release of this recording. The album does not feature the cast of that production, but rather a studio cast made up of Broadway-caliber performers like Rebecca Luker. They give it an ideal performance that should stand as an example to amateur theater groups in the future. The show is about a 13-year-old girl in Paw Paw, MI, whose special talent (unlike, say, her sister the math whiz) is giving advice, or, as she puts it, "telling people what to do." Ominous as this may sound, she thankfully is more of a junior Miss Manners than a member of the Hitler Youth, and she conducts a show devoted to helping her fellow children with such problems as dealing with obnoxious brothers, figuring out how set a table, and discovering what "R.S.V.P." stands for. More often than not, Edwina's clients seem to be concerned with appropriate behavior in social gatherings, and she and her friends give them helpful examples to ease their minds. Goldrich takes the opportunity to present musical pastiches of various styles including doo wop, Scottish music, French music, and Caribbean music, and she even creates a tune that might have been borrowed from a children's version of The Rocky Horror Show (or a pale imitation of "The Monster Mash") in "Frankenguest," which describes what happens when a birthday party is crashed by an obnoxious boy. (That's right, obnoxious boys seem to be a recurrent problem.) The theater professionals lending their talents here seem to be having a good time, and they demonstrate that Dear Edwina is likely to be an enjoyable show for children in the five to 12 age range to enjoy and even participate in.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann