Welcome to Tourettaville!
nytheatre.com review by Charles Battersby
January 7, 2006
To be honest, when I heard the premise of Welcome To Tourettaville, I was convinced it had to be a satire. Tourettavile, you see, is a children's musical about Tourette Syndrome, a condition that causes its sufferers to involuntarily spew profanity, among other symptoms. What, I ask you, could make for a better parody of sugar-coated children's theatre? It turns out that …Tourettaville is on the level. Not only is it for real, but it's a genuinely touching, heartfelt show that really will teach children valuable lessons about this misunderstood condition.
Welcome To Tourettaville’s story is about Mark Brayne (Evan Davies) a young boy who begins to display odd behavior, including twitching, blinking, screaming, and uncontrollable cursing. His family and teachers don't understand why he's doing all of this, until he's diagnosed with Tourette. Mark eventually learns to accept his Tourette in a dream sequence where he makes friends with a trio of aliens named Tick, Blinky, and Screamer; the audience also learns a valuable lesson about accepting people for their differences, at the same time.
The small cast features a couple of actual kids, making it especially accessible to children. The grown-ups (including Broadway talent) do a bang-up job, with Paul Bacon really standing out as the assorted authority figures, including a pedantic school administrator, and a Freudian psychologist.
Welcome To Tourettaville tends to hit kids with lessons they've probably already heard countless times (the things that make Elmo different make Elmo special too!) but, Tourette Syndrome certainly deserves a little extra emphasis here (Big Bird probably never mentioned that the kid screaming obscenities in math class might be doing so because of a neurological disorder). Tourettaville is also quite short, not even half an hour, which makes it too skimpy for an afternoon’s entertainment, but it certain would fit into a school assembly (which appears to be the writers' intention, anyway).
One of the things that makes Welcome To Tourettaville so earnest is the fact that one of its writers has Tourette Syndrome. Johnny Ospa has obviously poured his heart into this show so that he can help future generations of Tourette sufferers, and that shows in the material. Tourettaville is obviously a must-see for families who have a child with Tourette Syndrome, but it’s also a fun way to remind kids that it’s OK to be different.