In their production of “Click Clack Moo”, Childsplay once again does what they do best, addressed themes that are important to young children like conflict resolution, problem solving and boredom in an entertaining, engaging and oh so fun way.
“Click Clack Moo, Cows That Type” by Doreen Cronin is a silly, wonderful book about cows and hens who are cold, and how they negotiate with the farmer to acquire electric blankets to keep themselves warm. The book is fun, interactive, with great illustrations that takes maybe, 10 minutes to read out loud. 20 minutes if you act it out. So, how did Childsplay take a delightful, yet quite short, children’s story and make it into a 60 minute production?
This is a question I ask myself every time I see a Childsplay adaptation of a beloved children’s story. “Runaway Bunny” and “Goodnight Moon” are two of my all time favorite Childsplay productions, so I was beside myself excited to see what ingenious things they would inject into “Click Clack Moo” to create a full length play.
I was not disappointed. My favorite addition was Duck, who in the book is a “neutral party”, but in the play was boooooorrrreeeed. I loved this, because what child doesn’t sometimes get boorrreed? Duck, who was bored, figured out not only how to solve his problem, but made himself some new friends in the meantime. I also loved Duck’s imagination. Imagination, unfortunately, is becoming somewhat of a lost art, and to see Duck carry out his pond, then swim in it, made me smile.
I also got a kick out of how the cows had to figure out that Farmer Brown couldn’t speak Moo. When I presented this book to my preschool class, they had the best time imagining what the language of “Moo” might sound like – I loved it that this was addressed in the play.
The cows, in the play, had more than just one problem they needed to solve. Not only were they cold, but they needed to figure out how to communicate that problem to Farmer Brown in a way that he could understand. The trial and error that the cows and the hen went through until they finally happened upon the typewriter had the entire audience rolling.
As usual, the music in this production was amazing. There is nothing like good harmonies in songs about cows going on strike or boring duck ponds to make you feel good and want to get up and dance.
The costumes were to die for. My girls loved Hen’s costume the best; I loved the Cows’. Somehow maid uniforms in a cow print with a cute little maid hat and awesome black and white saddle shoes were exactly how a cow would dress, if she were to wear people clothes.
While this play is based on a preschool picture book, and is designed for ages 3 and up, there is plenty of humor aimed right at the grown-ups in the audience. My kids are tweens and teens, and they were rolling, as was I with the subtle asides directed specifically at the older members of the audience.
I loved the simple yet effective set as well. I so appreciate a simple set; especially in a production aimed at the preschool set. As I stated earlier, imagination is becoming a lost art. With toys that are sometimes so realistic that no imagination is required as well as the abundance video games and aps, I dig seeing a skeleton of a barn standing in for the real thing. Or seeing Hen getting stuck in a completely imaginary box (I think that was my favorite part…I am still giggling about that as I type this). Small children need to see imagination at work, and realize that they can use their imagination to create things that are not actually there on their own.
I should also note that Childsplay does a terrific job of extending the play in their 360 degree theatre experience. In the lobby, before and after the play they have activities set up that expand on the themes of the play. For “Click Clack Moo”, audience members get to experience the joys of typing on a real typewriter. My niece tried it out; her reaction? “This is RIDICULOUS! People actually typed on these? How did anything ever get written?” We also enjoyed the questions for the ride home. We enjoy rehashing the experience as we debate the questions Childsplay has given us to think about.
Go see this play. It is worth every penny, and it is an event the entire family will enjoy. My kids and I are still discussing it and giggling about it a week later. It was that good.