Lucas Reviews “Schoolhouse Rock Live!”

“As your body grows bigger, your mind grows flowers, it’s great to learn, ‘cause knowledge is power!  Schoolhouse Rocky, a chip off the block.  Your favorite schoolhouse, Schoolhouse Rock!”  Back in the early 1970’s David McCall’s son was having difficulty with multiplication at his school and yet knew the lyrics to current rock songs.  This gave David McCall an idea to make a song that had the multiplication lyrics in it.  He believed this would help his son learn multiplication facts easier.  The first song for Schoolhouse Rock! Was “Three is a Magic Number.”  There were a total of 46 songs that aired on ABC from 1973-1989.  Most of the songs were based on folk or jazz music because that was popular at the time.

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Since Schoolhouse Rock! is so old, Childsplay Theatre decided to update quite a bit of the show.  For example, songs weren’t jazz and folk music, but instead different types of rock music were used without changing the lyrics.  The set design to this play was based on Tetris and Minecraft.  The reason Childsplay Theatre did this was so that it would be like any other thing a kid might see today.photo3

The cast had a variety of different shaped blocks that were used to move, sit or stand upon to build props.  They even took imaginary selfies, which sounds a bit weird, but made the play more modern.

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The cast members were two men and two women.  In the play, three of the cast members were all supposed to be a part of the fourth member’s mind, will and emotions.  This man was a teacher who was scared to go to his first day of school.  He was afraid that he wouldn’t do a very good job and wouldn’t know enough information to teach the students.  Early in the morning the teacher turned on the television and was watching an episode of Schoolhouse Rock!.  Three people popped out of the television.   This both surprised and amazed the teacher.  He thought he was possibly going mad (also known as crazy).  The three people explained to him that they were all different parts of him and would help him prepare for the day.

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When I interviewed the actors, this is what I learned:

  1. Good theatre, in the actor’s opinions, is when there’s “honesty” in the performance, good storytelling, and when it keeps you thinking after the performance is over.
  2. I learned that they had to learn in order to do the play.
  3. One of the actor’s favorite songs is “Bill” because it’s the song he remembers most from when he was a kid.  Another actor likes “Preamble” the best because she actually used that song in school, and that’s what Schoolhouse Rock! is all about – helping kids remember those facts in school.
  4. The cast worked well together because they all had different talents that helped them to make the play great.

I could tell that the cast really enjoyed each other and they had a good sense of humor.  I think they did a really good job on the performance.  I enjoyed it and it was one of the best plays I’ve seen.

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Lucas
Childsplay Kid Reporter

Lucas reviews “The Velveteen Rabbit”

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        As you know or if you don’t know, I’ll tell you this. The Velveteen Rabbit play is a Christmas story. Instead of camping outside stores just to get a good Black Friday price or something like that, come see this play. Rather than climbing up to your rooftop and sitting there waiting to see Santa, come see this play. Instead of kissing under the mistletoe, come see this play. You could have a nice refreshing drink of sparkling apple cider and have a belated Thanksgiving feast, but if I were you, I would rather come see this play.

        If you go to The Velveteen Rabbit, you will have a better sense about love.The boy’s love for his rabbit is unstoppable.

        At the beginning, the boy receives a velveteen rabbit. They play with each other, sleep with one other, and go everywhere together. The other toys make fun of the rabbit. But the rabbit doesn’t care, for they are not real, and he is… or so he thinks. One day the boy becomes sick. The velveteen rabbit is worried. Suddenly, the grandmother takes the rabbit because he is full of germs. He is left to burn in a trash pile in the garden. There might be a little magic that I have left out of the story. If you go, you will know.

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        I went to the play and watched the show. Then after that, I was shown a secret stairway that lead to the sound booth. I have a badge that gives me full security access. I don’t know what that means, but I’m guessing that is why I got to go up to the sound booth. I saw the script of the play, a microphone, and a computer. When you are up in the sound booth, you can technically watch the play just from up there.

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        Afterward I went backstage and interviewed the actors and actresses. Here are some of the questions that I asked:

Is it easy to put on a show like The Velveteen Rabbit?

        ✦ “It’s easier for some of us because we’ve done it before.  So Debbie, Dwayne, me and Jon have all done it many, many times over the years, but this is the first time that Eric and Kate and Kaleena have done it.  So I’m guessing it was probably a little bit more difficult for them than it was for us – we kinda just remember stuff from past years, so it’s not as difficult.” – Katie McFadzen (The Velveteen Rabbit)

        People that haven’t done the show as much aren’t as familiar with it.

Do you think the grandma was right to take the rabbit away from the boy?

        ✦ “That’s a tough one..” – Katie McFadzen (The Velveteen Rabbit)

        ✦ “I think yes she is right. It comes down to the health of the boy. She doesn’t want him to get sick. That’s her job is to take care of him.” – Eric Boudreau (Nana)

        ✦ “She is following doctor’s orders.” – Katie McFadzen (The Velveteen Rabbit)

        ✦ “In order to do her job she has to take away the velveteen bunny, and while she is sad that she has to do it, she has to look out for him. She wants him to be healthy.” – Eric Boudreau (Nana)

        ✦ “Sometimes you have to make hard choices like that.” – Debra K. Stevens (Narrator)

How does the rabbit feel when he is thrown into the trash?

        ✦  “He’s very sad. He says, ‘What use is it to be loved, and to lose my beauty and become real if it ends like this?’ He thinks it is all over. He thinks his life is over at that point. So, he is pretty sad.” – Katie McFadzen (The Velveteen Rabbit)

        ✦ “Lot of despair, huh?”  – Debra K. Stevens (Narrator)

        ✦ “Yah.” – Katie McFadzen (The Velveteen Rabbit)

I feel real when my mom cuddles with me at night. When do you feel real?

        ✦ “When my dog wakes me up in the morning. He jumps on the bed and tells me it is time to wake up. I like that. And then we snuggle a little bit.” –Dwayne Hartford (Skin Horse)

        ✦ “Well, I kind of talk to my dog.” ~my response

        ✦ “I feel real when I hear audience members applauding and laughing. That makes me feel real.” – Katie McFadzen (The Velveteen Rabbit)

        ✦ “You know. I think anytime I feel really happy, really sad, or really angry…because you feel really strong emotions. I think maybe that is when I feel the most real.” – Debra K. Stevens (Narrator)

What does the Skin Horse mean when he says, “Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby”?

        ✦ “Well, I think what he is trying to say is that the idea for the velveteen rabbit and for him… their idea of being real is when the boy believes that they are real. And so they can only achieve that after a long time where the boy is going to cuddle and hold you, and tromp through the garden with you.” – Dwayne Hartford (Skin Horse)

        ✦ “And then eventually he gets old.” ~my response

        ✦ “Yah.  And things happen, you know, as he gets worn out…” – Dwayne Hartford  (Skin Horse)

        ✦ “You have those experiences.” – Katie McFadzen (The Velveteen Rabbit)

        ✦ “Yes, you have all of those experiences and then become real.” – Dwayne Hartford (Skin Horse)

What do you think Margery Williams, the author of The Velveteen Rabbit, meant when she wrote, “When you are real, you don’t mind being hurt”?

        ✦ “Now that is a very interesting thing because we don’t actually say that in the same way in the play. We say that sometimes that is part of being real. We don’t actually say, ‘You don’t mind being hurt.’ We changed that the very first year [of the performance]. We changed it to say ‘That is part of being real’. You know how your feelings are hurt sometimes? It’s not easy, but it is just part of being alive.” –Debra K. Stevens (Narrator)

        ✦ “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” – Kate Haas (Nursery Fairy)

        ✦ “It’s one of those ways that you know you are real. You feel things like this and sometimes your feelings get hurt. I don’t know. That is a very hard line [in the book], ‘You don’t mind being hurt.’ I don’t know that there is ever a time when I don’t mind being hurt.” – Debra K. Stevens (Narrator)

        ✦ “It’s an odd way to put it that you don’t mind. It’s more that you are willing to put yourself at risk of being hurt in order to feel the joys.” – Kate Haas (Nursery Fairy)

        ✦ “Yeah, I really didn’t get that line like, ‘You don’t mind being hurt?’ ~my response

        ✦ “Because of course you do. It’s about being willing to take a risk and being willing to have that happen to you.” – Debra K. Stevens (Narrator)

When you are not rehearsing, what do you do for fun?

        ✦ “Puzzles. And sometimes I bring puzzles here for when we are on break.” – Kate Haas (Nursery Fairy)

        ✦ “I eat!  – Jon Gentry (Tin Soldier) 

        ✦ “I like to read.” – Dwayne Hartford (Skin Horse)

        ✦ “I like to knit and crochet.” –Katie McFadzen (The Velveteen Rabbit)

        ✦ “I’m in school, so I have to do my homework.” –Kaleena Newman (Boy)

        ✦ “I like to play soccer and volleyball.” –Eric Boudreau (Nana)

        ✦ “I like to play tennis.” – Debra K. Stevens (Narrator)

        For me, I like eating, too! I don’t know what you like, but if you like oversized furniture and stuffed animals, you’ll enjoy The Velveteen Rabbit.

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