By Marcina Zaccaria


In a bright fantasy that is Emojiland, the world inside of smart phone is examined for New York Musical Festival audience.

Emojiland is a celebration of the Unicode Standard, and a wise testament to the joy of putting emotion in text messaging. You don’t need to be a computer programmer to want to sing along. With Book, Music and Lyrics are by Keith Harrison and Laura Nicole Harrison, it’s a predictable two hours and fifteen minutes, and near blissful. The dialogue is quippy and easy to follow.

Parties are thrown by the newest kings and queens, a firewall needs to be constructed, and a demon-like figure offers death to the residents of Emojiland. Lesli Margherita takes center stage, and her character declares that “Princess is a Bitch.” We believe it. With the crown piled on top of her head, and loyal subjects moving side by side with her, royal Emojiland does not seem like it will topple at any moment. Nerd Face is an agent for change with a catchy turn of phrase, knowing that with O and 1 anything is possible.


In computer failures and distressed updates, the cast of characters renews their position over and over. Meanwhile, the emotional landscape of Emojiland strikes a dark chord. Is there something none of the characters will say (or sing) out loud? A private grief seems to stop them short of realizing their dreams, and it’s fascinating to watch in a genre that is so regularly unguarded. Haunting and resolute, Jordon Bolden as Skull offers the possibility of death. With a convincing style, his bright green virus potion takes center stage. Update Number Five becomes the issue of the day, and many of the townspeople get the feeling that they might not make it. Static swarms, causing repetition, fainting, and other rare computer disorders. It’s difficult to get to 100 without a frightening reset.

Scenic Designer David Goldstein has created a bright, charming world for the emojis to inhabit. Projection Design by Lisa Renkel fills the Acorn Theater. Spiraling multi-colored centers are juxtaposed with black and white graphics. With a few moves stolen from the 70s and other moves fresh out of club land, Kenny Ingram’s choreographic style is surprisingly simple, yet truly enjoyable. Through the glittering sneakers and high-heeled boots, there is a whimsy that feels like it must be obeyed. A blue top hat and an actor on rolling sneakers adds a bit of circus to the already festive environment.

The New York Musical Festival proves to be incredibly consistent. What makes Emojiland stand out is the ensemble spirit. To hear everyone in full voice, effortlessly singing in a line downstage makes the audience remember why they love the genre and why they return to the New York Musical Festival for the 15th year.

Photos: Jeremy Daniel


Emojiland played at the The Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row, located at 410 West 42nd Street in NYC.