“Schoolhouse Rock Live!” review by Jessica

Another toe tapping, bouncing in your seat performance from the folks at Childsplay.  Schoolhouse Rock Live! was a performance that took me right back to the good old days of watching these musical cartoons when I was a kid. My boys ages 8 and 6 really didn’t know what to expect when heading to the show and the car was flooded with questions about what they were going to see. My daughter was more than willing to give them her version of I’m just a Bill at the top of her lungs from the front seat of the car; silly teenager enter stage right. With this show being right at an hour of stage time it was perfect for introducing my younger children to musical performances. It was a nice blend of story line and music and education that had them all (me included) shuffling our feet to the upbeat tunes.


The set was layered with functionality: stacked boxes became shelves or television sets, or even hiding spots for hide and seek. My favorite by far was the inventive use of white boards and lighting to give versatility to changing words and reinforcing key points of the song. I was very impressed with the precision this took for the performers knowing exactly where their boards and bodies needed to be to execute this element of the show. One step to the side or a shift in position would robbed the audience of an important adjective or conjunction.


Schoolhouse Rock was jammed full of songs, old favorites like, Just a Bill, Five, and The Preamble, as well as our new favorites like Interplanet Janet and Unpack Your Adjectives.  All the actors and actresses did a great job of belting it out, the songs transitioned well and added some really funny moments that had us giggling long after the show was over. One of our favorites was when Molly Robinson who plays Shulie, held her hands up sporting three fingers on each side and making an “o” with her mouth transforming herself into a walking “WOW.” Since the show my daughter has tried it out on many occasions.  School House Rock Live is a MUST see, toe tapping, rockin‘, fun family experience.

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Marissa Reviews “Schoolhouse Rock Live!”

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My family had the opportunity to attend the Childsplay performance of Schoolhouse Rock Live! this past weekend. I must say I think I was looking forward to this more than the kids were!  I remember as a child watching Saturday morning cartoons and singing along with Schoolhouse Rock. When my oldest daughter was little we purchased the DVD and spent hours listening and singing. They have also used the songs at her school to learn about three, the preamble and various other things.

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I was curious how they could have made a play out of short song/skits, and I was pleasantly surprised that they found a way to make it a story that incorporated the songs; in a dreamy sort of way.

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What most impressed me about this production was the sheer physicality and talent required to pull this off. The four actors were moving throughout and singing the whole time. It was brilliant and made me wish I had the stamina to sing and dance for such a long time. They also involved the audience which was great and held the kids attention well.

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Of the two plays we have taken my three-year-old to, this one held her captive more than the other. She and my oldest daughter would sing along with the songs they knew, and the time flew by. My favorite part was three is a magic number, which my oldest daughter told my youngest daughter was her song, because she is three you know.

I am still singing the songs in my head a week later. If you don’t leave singing and with a spring in your step, you may want to try another way to relive your child, it is very worthwhile. This was a wonderful musical that the whole family can enjoy, I can’t recommend it enough!

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An Unconventional Family Bonded by a Dog: Childsplay’s “Super Cowgirl and Mighty Miracle”


I figured that the littles and I would enjoy any play where one of the main characters is a dog (played by a human), but I didn’t realize how touching and thought-provoking a seemingly simple tale could be. We knew going in that Childsplay’s Super Cowgirl and Mighty Miracle would likely be fantastic. When we saw The Velveteen Rabbit a few months ago, we were blown away. What surprised me about this production was how playwright José Cruz González took serious current social issues and made them approachable for young audiences and how Childsplay’s actors communicated the story in such a way that these beginning theater-goers could “feel.”

Childsplay summarized the play:

When a stray dog appears on the doorstep, it’s love at first sight for six-year-old Cory, and the last straw for Grandma Autumn. Life hasn’t been easy lately for either of these two, facing absent parents and lost homes. But in a delightfully surprising story filled with humor and heart, Super Cowgirl and Mighty Miracle reminds us love makes almost anything possible, even in hard times.

The subject matter couldn’t be more timely.

We had the honor of listening to González speak about the play before it began. He explained how he wanted to tackle current issues that are facing so many in our country. He wanted to illustrate an unconventional family both in terms of multiple generations and in terms of race and culture.

My children (ages five and seven) were quite entertained throughout the performance. There were no untimely bathroom requests or declarations of starvation. They were riveted. They laughed a lot, and felt the tension that some parts of the story required. I enjoyed watching their faces as much as I enjoyed watching the performance. With such complex, sensitive issues being raised I wondered how much my children absorbed. I asked them what the play was about (possible spoilers):

Quotes from my seven-year-old:

• “The girl had to live with her grandma because her mom was dead and her papa had to go to another country to work. They didn’t have a lot of money, so that must have been hard.”

• “I thought it was cool how they went to all the different places and just switched a couple of things on the stage so you could tell where they were.”

• “The girl helped the dog, and the dog helped the girl and her grandma, too, so they became a real family. They all loved each other.”

Quotes from my five-year-old:

• “Love…and family.”

• “The play was about the dog saving the girl’s life just like she saved his life.”

• “The girl and the grandma didn’t get along so well at the beginning, but then they loved each other.”

• “My favorite part was when the grandma stepped in the dog poop!”


I must say, the poop part was pretty funny. There were several points during the show that had the whole audience roaring. Despite–and perhaps partly because of–the hilarious antics, the kids were able to understand that the story was about love and family.

Aside from the fabulous performance that Childsplay put on, I love the fact that they make theater approachable for kids. After the performance, the actors took their traditional bows, but then remained on the stage. They first asked the children in the audience specific questions about the play that made them think how they, as individuals, could relate to the story. Some of the questions required detailed comprehension of the story, and some didn’t, so there were questions for all ages. Everyone had the opportunity to participate. The children then had the chance to ask questions of the actors. The actors were approachable and said “ask us anything!”

My favorite question came from a young man: “How old are you?”

It was clear that Osiris Cuen, who played “Cory,” a six-year-old girl, was nowhere near that age. Yet during the performance, she made us believe she was. “I’m twenty-two,” Cuen told the young man. Carlos A. Lara, who played the dog, reported his age as “twenty-four.” Perhaps we can figure that out in dog years. And Chanel Bragg, who played “Grandma Autumn” was a mere thirty-one! Now I really feel old. It was wonderful to see the children in the audience asking questions that adults would typically take for granted. Not only are the children learning at an early age how to think thoroughly about a production, but adults get to view a live production through the eyes of inquisitive children. How rewarding for all!

Related:  adopt a friend and get a free ticket: childsplay teams up with the arizona animal welfare league


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“The Cat in the Hat” Review

I took my daughter to see The Cat in the Hat, and we had a blast.  She was very excited to see the performers enacting one of her books.  That was really the most awesome part- they stuck to the book.  The set accurately reflected the images and colors from Dr. Seuss’s work, as did the character’s costumes.  My daughter was duly impressed by Sally’s very tall, very red bow, and even asked her how it stayed on after the show.  The script also came directly from the book- word for word. It speaks volumes for Childsplay’s creativity that they filled the time between the words with action to embellish the story without compromising the original work.

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The character of the fish was my favorite.  He was fantastic!  One warning- if you have smaller children, ask for seats that are farther back and up off the floor.  Close to the stage, all the seats are on the same level.  My poor daughter spent the whole time on her knees trying to look around the little boy in front of her, who was on his knees trying to see around the person in front of him.  Otherwise, we had a great time and I absolutely recommend it.

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