Kimberly Akimbo sets the stage for a new kind of musical — one without massive, choreographed dance numbers or an obvious ‘happy ending.’ It’s a story that is real, raw and human. It’s not ‘escapism’ theater, it’s theater that looks you dead in the face and says, ‘Remember that although you’re sitting in this theater for the next two hours, life goes on, whether you like it or not.’ Characters played by Victoria Clark, Bonnie Milligan, Alli Mauzey, Justin Cooley and Steve Boyer serve as constant reminders of someone in your life — whether it’s your whacky aunt, the girl who got pregnant in high school, someone struggling with addiction, someone with not enough time left.
“We’re riding that line of the depths of heartbreak in this show and the levity of the humor, and you’ve got to meet in the middle of it — that’s the line I thread every night,” Alli Mauzey, who stars as Kimberly’s hypochondriac mom Patti, explained in an EXCLUSIVE interview with HollywoodLife for the 2023 Tony Contenders series. “I take pride in that. In some ways, Patti, when you first meet her in that song, she has that moment and that song and that humor for the first time is being introduced on where we’re going to go this journey we’re going to go on with this dysfunctional family. So I do take pride in being able to craft that with the creators.”
The story, by David Lindsay-Abaire, follows teen Kimberly Levaco, who suffers from a disease similar to progeria, which causes her to age rapidly thereby giving her the appearance of an elderly woman and cutting her life expectancy to about 16 years old. “There is this obvious weight overhead of Kimberly’s eventual death that is inevitable at some point. The characters though, really do keep it normal. They just keep living,” Alli described. “There’s definitely this overarching theme of time in time we have with what we want to do here on this planet.”
Audience members have a brief moment away from Kimberly’s mom’s selfish, childlike behavior in a song called ‘Father Time,’ when they truly see how deep her pain is, despite her behavior. “I personally find it fascinating that that’s the only time we get to see what’s going on with Patti when nobody else is around. God forbid she’d share that vulnerability with anybody else. She’s not capable,” Alli said. “The audience gets to see the heart of a mother who is devastated that she might not have her daughter around tomorrow. And I do think that is Patti’s reality from the day Kim was born.”
She continued, “When I leave the show at night, I drop as much as I can of Patti at the door because it’s a lot. But, I come home and I’m very conscious of now being grateful and want to take as much advantage of the time I get with my own kid. That’s what I take away from it and I just feel like it hits you in the heart. It’s not a cerebral thing. I think it hits the audience in the heart when you leave.”
Alli delivers a performance that makes you feel uneasy, unsure about whether you’re suppose to like her, hate her or feel sorry for her — and maybe you’re suppose to feel all of those things, because that’s the reality of humanity. “No one’s a saint in this family, but I think we love deeply. We love our people and our family deeply, and those are all things that help round out Patti,” she added. “She’s a product of environment, her situation, and she’s not just a mean mom.”
Kimberly Akimbo is currently on Broadway at The Booth Theater.
Alli Mauzey is part of HollywoodLife’s Tony Contenders series, in which we interview the biggest current stars on Broadway who are in contention for the upcoming Tony Awards on June 11, 2023.