School House Rock! Knowledge is Power
Author: Erin Laytham Lentz & Anna Schaffer
Saturday morning cartoons may have changed shapes and sounds in the past few decades, but one reigns supreme in the hearts of many: Schoolhouse Rock. This spring, the talented company at The Main Street Youth Theatre will take to the stage performing these sacred tunes that will leave you longing for lazy mornings by the television set. This fun, fast-paced stage musical, based on the 1970’s cartoon series, teaches history, grammar, math, science and politics through clever and catchy songs.
The show features a new teacher, Tom (Georgie Weisner), who is suffering from anxiety and nerves, on the brink of his first day of school. As all the personalities of Tom join the stage, your favorite Schoolhouse Rock tunes are presented. Tom is reminded of some important tools for the classroom by these ‘voices of reason.’
“George,” the romantic side of Tom is played by Raechel Schroeder & Harrison Leahy. “Dori,” the goofy side of Tom, is played by Hannah Schuler, Anna Gray Ashton and Emeree Putich. “Shulie,” the sweet side of Tom is played by Elliott Lentz, Gabi Deir, Lauren Schuler & Nichole Hamilton. “Joe,” the cool side of Tom features Derrick Dees, Amber Sternitzke and McKara Johnston. Finally, “Dina,” the mature side of Tom, is played by Edi Darnell and Amy Hughey. They all come together to present a journey through the iconic music of Schoolhouse Rock Live. Many of the cast are veteran performers with MSYT, some have performed in Productions at the Arts Center as well as other community theaters and school. The talented cast is comprised of performers ages 9-16 years of age.
The show opens when Tom, nervous about his first day teaching, tries to relax by watching TV. Various characters emerge from the set and show him how to win his students over with imagination and music, through beloved Schoolhouse Rock Live songs such as “Just a Bill,” “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly” and “Conjunction Junction.”
The brilliance of this show is not the re-creation of the cartoons you may remember so vividly, but the fresh storyline and 22 songs that together create a highly entertaining one-act performance. The sounds of the ’50s in “Victim of Gravity,” the acoustic resonance in “Noun is a Person, Place or Thing,” or the sweet harmonies of “Figure Eight” are just a few examples of the varied sounds and genres presented in Schoolhouse Rock Live! The show offers something for an audience of all ages.
At the helm is director Blake White, who returns to MSYT after previously directing productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night for Main Street’s Shakespeare in Shelter Cove Park series. Joining White on the production team are Anna Schaffer, music director, Patti Mauer, choreographer, Ben Wolfe, set designer, Terry Cermack, lighting designer and Scott Grooms, sound designer.
Top row: Mckara Johnston, Emeree Putich, Edi Darnell, Raechel Schroeder, Georgie Weisner, Amy Hughey, Gabi Deir, Nicole Hamilton, Amber Sternitzke, Hannah Schuler
Bottom from left to right: Lauren Schuler, Elliott Lentz, Harrison Leahy, Anna Gray Ashton and Derrick Dees
When asked what the appeal of this show will be to the community, White responded, “Schoolhouse Rock Live is a classic for a good reason. To see the songs that many of us grew up with and the lessons they impart come alive on stage is simply a delight. But the biggest treat is to see these ‘Generation Z’ kids fall in love with music of so many different styles. We are trying to teach/reinforce the fundamentals though storytelling about grammar, mathematics, a woman’s right to vote, etc. Today’s world is one that can borderline on toxic at times, and it’s always welcome to be reminded of simple foundations that we all received as children.”
Are you ready to return to a place where PJs, big bowls of cereal and an old “tube” television come alive again? Grab your friends, children, parents, neighbors and treat yourself to a nostalgic show full of familiar tunes. You will be left with a sense of renewed awareness of the functions of the parts of speech, how a bill becomes a law, the way your blood circulates and so much more. Come along for this journey through a lifetime of Saturday mornings.
Schoolhouse Rock Live! opens Friday, March 20 with a 5:30 p.m. fundraising gala that includes food & drinks followed by the show. Tickets for the gala are $50/adults and $25/students. Shows from Tuesday, March 24-Saturday March 28 are at 7 p.m. Other show dates include 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday, March 21, Sunday, March 22 and Sunday, March 29. Ticket prices are $25/adults and $15/students. For tickets, including group ticket information, call 843-689-MAIN (6246) or www.msyt.org.