Everything you need to know about 'Kimberly Akimbo' on Broadway

What's an anagram for "hit musical"? Learn more about this heartfelt show about living life to the fullest.

Joe Dziemianowicz
Joe Dziemianowicz

Seize the day! Adolescent years are always a challenge, and that goes double, actually quadruple, for 16-year-old Kimberly in the hit musical Kimberly Akimbo. She suffers from an extremely rare disease that causes her to age more than four times faster than normal.

On top of having to face down mortality way too soon, Kim is dealing with a dad who drinks too much booze; a neurotic, pregnant mom who’s harboring a deep family secret; and a con-artist aunt. But Kimberly finds a friend in a nerdy fellow sophomore student who loves word games, especially anagrams, and has a unique way of looking at life – and at her.

This musical adaptation of the same-named David Lindsay-Abaire play, with music by Jeanine Tesori, premiered off Broadway in 2021 and has made the move to Broadway. Before you step back into the '90s with Kimberly and the gang, learn more about the show's cast, history, and production information.

What is Kimberly Akimbo about?

Life is short, and for a girl who’s growing older around 4.5 times faster than the normal rate, every day is a reminder of that hard reality.

Kimberly Akimbo takes place in 1999 in suburban New Jersey, where the title character is a 16-year-old high school student who looks like she’s 72 because of a rare condition that’s accelerated her aging. Kim wants to act like a regular teenager and for her parents to behave like responsible adults.

Good luck with that. Her father, Buddy, drinks to distraction, while her pregnant mother, Pattie, imagines she’s got every medical malady in the book. Her aunt Debra is a serial scammer who pulls Kim and her classmates into her schemes. Kim boldly decides to live every day like it’s her last.

Where is Kimberly Akimbo playing?

Kimberly Akimbo is at the Booth Theatre. The theatre is located at 222 W 45nd St. between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.

The Booth Theatre opened in 1913 and was named for Edwin Booth, the notorious brother of John Wilkes Booth. The theatre most often houses plays. The most recent musical to run at the theatre was the Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal, which opened in 2009; the improv hip-hop show freestyle love supreme also played there in 2021.

How long is Kimberly Akimbo?

Kimberly Akimbo runs 2 hours and 20 minutes, including one intermission. This is a typical Broadway musical length, though musicals can run anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours. Intermissions are usually either 15 or 20 minutes long.

What days is Kimberly Akimbo playing?

Kimberly Akimbo plays eight performances a week at the Booth Theatre, with performances usually scheduled every day except Monday. For the complete performance schedule and show times, please visit the Kimberly Akimbo page.

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When did Kimberly Akimbo premiere?

The Kimberly Akimbo musical had its world premiere off Broadway at Atlantic Theater Company in 2021, 20 years after the Kimberly Akimbo play premiered. Discover a full timeline of the show's history below.

  • 2001: The Kimberly Akimbo play premieres at the South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, California. Marylouise Burke played the title character, and Lindsay-Abaire won the Kesserling Prize and the LA Drama Critics Circle Award for Writing.
  • 2003: The play debuts off Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club in February, also with Burke. She received two acting awards nominations, and Kimberly Akimbo received an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination for Best New Off-Broadway Play.
  • 2008: Lindsay-Abaire and Tesori collaborate for the first time, on Shrek the Musical. That collaboration led to their reunion for Kimberly Akimbo; it was Tesori's idea to turn one of Lindsay-Abaire's plays into a musical.
  • 2021: The Kimberly Akimbo musical premieres at Atlantic Theater Company's Linda Gross Theater. The Off-Broadway production ran from November 2021 to January 2022, starring Victoria Clark as Kimberly.
  • 2022: The Kimberly Akimbo musical premieres on Broadway in October with the full Off-Broadway cast.

Who wrote Kimberly Akimbo?

The Kimberly Akimbo musical features a book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, who adapted his 2001 play of the same name. Jeanine Tesori composed the music for the Kimberly Akimbo musical. The two previously took on the same creative roles on Shrek the Musical, which began performances on Broadway in 2008.

Lindsay-Abaire is an award-winning writer whose work includes plays and musicals and subject matters both serious and comic. He won a Pulitzer Prize for Rabbit Hole, a drama about a grief-stricken family that opened on Broadway in 2006. Good People, about a blue-collar single mother in South Boston, premiered on Broadway in 2011.

Tesori is a composer who won a 2015 Tony Award for the musical Fun Home, a family drama based on Alison Bechdel's memoir. Tesori’s other well-known musicals include Caroline, or Change, Violet, and Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Kimberly Akimbo characters

The Kimberly Akimbo characters include various people in 1999 New Jersey. They include teenagers who are high school students as well as members of her family. Below are the characters of the Kimberly Akimbo musical.

  • Kimberly: An outcast 16-year-old grappling with an aging disease that makes her look like she’s in her 70s.
  • Seth: A high school geek who's into anagrams and playing the tuba. He connects with Kim on a school science project and, eventually, they grow close on a more personal level.
  • Buddy: Kim’s dad, whose drinking undermines his well-meaning efforts to do his best for his daughter.
  • Pattie: Kim’s mom, a pregnant hypochondriac who tends to overlook her daughter.
  • Debra: Kim’s aunt, a street-smart schemer who is always on the lookout for another illicit scheme and pawns to use to her advantage.
  • Delia, Martin, Aaron, and Teresa: Kim’s fellow students, who get drawn into Debra’s moneymaking grift.

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Who is in the cast of Kimberly Akimbo?

The cast of the Broadway premiere of the Kimberly Akimbo musical includes the same actors who were in the Off-Broadway presentation.

They include Tony Award winner Victoria Clark as Kimberly, Justin Cooley as Seth, Steven Boyer as Buddy, Alli Mauzey as Pattie, and Bonnie Milligan as Debra. Olivia Elease Hardy, Fernell Hogan, Nina White, and Michael Iskander reprise their roles as Kim’s classmates.

Kimberly Akimbo songs

The songs in the Kimberly Akimbo musical are by David Lindsay-Abaire, who wrote the lyrics, and Jeanine Tesori, who wrote the music. Here are all the songs you’ll hear in Kimberly Akimbo on Broadway.

Act I

  • “Skater Planet” — Aaron, Delia, Martin, Teresa, Seth, Kim)
  • “Hello, Darling” — Pattie
  • “Make a Wish” — Kim
  • “Skater Planet” (Reprise) — Aaron, Delia, Martin, Teresa
  • “Anagram” — Kimberly, Seth, Aaron, Delia, Martin, Teresa
  • “Better” — Debra, Aaron, Delia, Martin, Teresa
  • “Hello, Darling (Reprise)/“Father Time” — Pattie
  • “Happy For Her” — Buddy
  • “Anagram” (Reprise) — Kim
  • “This Time” — Company

Act 2

  • “How to Wash a Check” — Debra, Kim, Seth, Aaron, Delia, Martin, Teresa
  • “Good Kid” — Seth
  • “Hello, Baby” — Buddy
  • “Skater Planet” (Reprise) — Aaron, Delia, Martin, Teresa, Seth
  • “Our Disease” — Kimberly, Seth, Aaron, Delia, Martin, Teresa
  • “The Inevitable Turn” — Pattie, Buddy, Debra, Aaron, Delia, Martin, Teresa
  • “Now” — Seth, Kimberly
  • “How To Wash a Check” (Reprise) — Debra, Aaron, Delia, Martin, Teresa
  • “Before I Go” — Kimberly, Buddy, Pattie
  • “Hello, Sister” — Kimberly, Seth
  • “Great Adventure” — Company

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What awards has Kimberly Akimbo won?

The Off-Broadway run of the Kimberly Akimbo musical was critically acclaimed and won Best Musical prizes and more at multiple awards ceremonies. Here are the major awards the Kimberly Akimbo musical and play have won.

  • Drama Desk Awards: The musical won Outstanding Musical and was nominated for eight additional awards for performance, writing, direction, and design.
  • Lucille Lortel Awards: Kimberly Akimbo won Outstanding Musical, and Clark and Milligan won Outstanding Leading and Featured Performer in a Musical awards, respectively.
  • Outer Critics Circle Awards: In addition to Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical, Kimberly Akimbo won Outstanding Actress in a Musical for Clark, Outstanding Director of a Musical for Jessica Stone, and Outstanding Book of a Musical for Lindsay-Abaire.
  • New York Drama Critics Circle Awards: Kimberly Akimbo won Best Musical.
  • Other: The Kimberly Akimbo play won Lindsay-Abaire the Kesserling Prize and the LA Drama Critics Circle Award for Writing. The play's 2003 Off-Broadway debut earned an Outstanding New Off-Broadway play nomination at the Outer Critics Circle Awards, and Marylouise Burke earned Outstanding Actress in a Play nominations at the Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk Awards.

Major productions of Kimberly Akimbo

The Off-Broadway and Broadway stagings of Kimberly Akimbo are the major productions thus far, but the play has had additional major productions. Here are all the major productions of the Kimberly Akimbo play and musical.

  • 2001 world premiere (play): South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, California hosted the world premiere of the acclaimed Kimberly Akimbo play.
  • 2003 Off-Broadway premiere (play): Burke, who starred in the 2001 premiere, reprises her role as Kimberly in the play's Off-Broadway debut at Manhattan Theatre Club. The cast also included John Gallagher, Jr. and Ana Gasteyer.
  • 2021 Off-Broadway premiere (musical): The Kimberly Akimbo musical has its world premiere at Atlantic Theater Company, starring Tony winner Victoria Clark.
  • 2022 Broadway premiere (musical): Clark and the entire Off-Broadway cast of the Kimberly Akimbo musical move with the production to Broadway, just under a year after its Off-Broadway debut.

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Fun facts about Kimberly Akimbo

  • David Lindsay-Abaire told Vogue he got the initial idea for Kimberly Akimbo after asking a friend how his newborn niece was doing. “He said, ‘Oh, she’s amazing—she’s like this little old woman trapped in a baby’s body,’” Lindsay-Abaire told the magazine. “I thought, wow, that’s a very theatrical idea.”
  • Kimberly's last name isn't Akimbo; it's Levaco. The show's title comes from an anagram Seth creates of Kim's name, which is "cleverly akimbo."
  • Lindsay-Abaire is also an avid anagram creator and solver in real life.
  • The character of Seth was named Jeff in the Kimberly Akimbo play. The change factors into an anagram Kim creates in the musical.
  • There is a scene in the Kimberly Akimbo musical where the actors ice skate on stage.
  • Kimberly’s aging disorder is unnamed but is like progeria, an extremely rare, progressive genetic disorder. It causes children to age rapidly, starting in their first two years of life. The average life expectancy for a child with progeria is about 13 years. Progeria affects about 1 in 20 million people around the world, according to reports.

How to get Kimberly Akimbo tickets

Kimberly Akimbo is a coming of age story with a bittersweet twist. Audiences from 4 to 104 will be moved by Kim's story of finding one's people and making the most of life while one has it.

Photo credit: Kimberly Akimbo. (Photos by Joan Marcus)

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