The popular Off-Broadway children's show, "Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical," was conceived backstage at the Tony award-winning "Beautiful: A Carol King Musical."

Melvin Tunstall III, a Green Level native and "swing" actor in "Beautiful," had a conversation with Broadway star Douglas "Doug" Lyons in May, 2015, that set the musical in motion.

"Doug said, 'I have an idea for a musical and I think you should write it,'" Tunstall said in a phone interview from his home in New York. "It's set in this fantasy land of polkadots and squares. Like life and issues in it, nothing is black-and-white. It needs to be insanely colorful."

"Polkadots" follows 8-year-old Lily Polkadot who just moved to "Square Only," a small town in Rockaway. Lily doesn't fit in. Then she meets Sky, a shy square boy who is curious about her polkadots. The family musical was inspired by Civil Rights pioneers Ruby Bridges and Little Rock Nine. It has a contemporary score by Greg Borowsky, a music producer with Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Borowsky, also a performer, goes by the stage name Greg Dean.

"We would convene in the hallway and I would write in the dressing room," Tunstall said. "Doug would be on stage and then, when he came off stage, we would collaborate. Ninety percent of the show was written in the dressing room. It allowed us a chance to bounce ideas off each other."

The first presentation of "Polkadots" was in August, 2015. The first production was at the Ivoryton Playhouse in Ivoryton, Conn., in December of that same year. The New York premiere was on Sept. 16, 2017, at the Atlantic Theatre Company.

Since then, the production has been performed Off-Broadway. It premiered in South Africa last month. Borowsky came to the United States to work on a musical tribute to Nelson Mandela.

"We saw photos of children holding up signs with polkadots on them," Tunstall said. "You can't know what that means to us. This is so much bigger than we ever dreamed. There are photos of kids in various other places with these signs as well. The polkadots symbolize inclusion and diversity. You just can't even imagine that kids would be impacted by that. But it's not just them, either, it's their parents as well. They come to the show because the kids are interested in it, but they leave with a new appreciation of how important it is that we embrace one another in this world. I still cry when I see it. This show says that we're at our best when we're diverse; we're much stronger when we're together."

The show received the Best Family Show award during the Off Broadway Alliance Awards in May.

"This was such an honor," Tunstall said. "We were told that the voting was unanimous and that's never happened before."

"Polkadots" will embark on its first national tour in January. Alamance County residents will get to see the show before it goes on tour in what Tunstall is calling "the premiere of the tour."

The musical will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday at the Paramount Theater, 128 E. Front St., Burlington.

Alamance Arts also will present "An Intimate Evening with Melvin Tunstall III" at 7 p.m. Thursday at the newly restored Impact Alamance headquarters in the historic Cammack building, 133 E. Davis St., Burlington. Light refreshments will be served. A $10 donation is appreciated to help with the expense of bringing "Polkadots" to the Paramount Theater.

Tunstall is so appreciative of Alamance Arts' support through the years.

"I'm a huge fan of Alamance Arts and what they do for this community," he said. "The work they do is impeccable."

He's also thrilled to return home to visit with cousins, friends, and his parents, Melvin and Linda Tunstall.

"To be able to come home and present this show just means the world to me," he said. "My parents were here for the New York opening. It's such a dream for all of us."

Tickets are $8 for adults and $7 for children and can be purchased at, by calling 800-514-3849 or visiting the box office between noon and 3 p.m Monday through Friday and one hour prior to showtime. For more details or assistance, call 336-222-8497.