Friends Forever

"Ohmygod! That is, like, so totally cool!" If this is an expression you often hear around your house, you are probably living with a "tween." Journalist Michele Willens is credited with coining the term to describe the group of kids who find themselves stuck between two worlds: childhood and adolescence. In her play Dear Maudie, playing at the 78th Street Theater Lab, she explores the tight bond formed by two fourth-grade girls, Nicki and Maudie, as they struggle to make sense of their changing lives. One would be hard pressed to find another play whose target audience is tweens. There are no adults playing children, no patronizing tones or after-school-special themes, and no coming-of-age epiphanies. Maudie and Nicki are on the brink of becoming teenagers, not adults. They are trying desperately to preserve their innocence, not lose it.

The girls are realistically portrayed by two cute-faced young actresses, Allison Brustofski (Nicki) and Danielle Carlacci (Maudie). The production's success relies entirely on their personality and charisma, since the story is told through the letters and e-mails they write each other during class. As they read the letters aloud, other actors, seated on benches behind them, will occasionally rise to illustrate what they are typing. But the play mostly rests on their shoulders

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