‘Schoolhouse Rock’ is back
By Kathy Cichon For Sun-Times Media July 11, 2013 9:56AM
Katharine Howard, from left, Cheryl Newman and Cat Chapek perform "Sufferin' Until Suffrage" from "Schoolhouse Rock Live!" performed by WMC Productions. | Submitted Photo
Schoolhouse Rock Live!
♦ July 12-14; 19-21
♦ 7:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays
♦ Warrenville Community Building, 3S240 Warren Ave.
♦ $10 advance/$12 at the door
Updated: July 13, 2013 10:29AM
Get ready to “Unpack Your Adjectives” and visit “Conjunction Junction.”
The musical “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” opens July 12 for a two-weekend run at the Warrenville Community Building, 3S240 Warren Ave., Warrenville.
Performances will be held July 12-14 and 19-21, with shows starting at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $10 in advance, and $12 at the door. Advance tickets are available at the Warrenville Park District, 3S260 Warren Ave., and by email at email@example.com.
Based on the popular educational cartoons from the 1970s and 1980s, the musical features 21 of the classic songs including “Conjunction Junction,” “I’m Just a Bill” and “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly.”
As cast and crew members tell others about the production, they often hear stories of the memories the cartoons bring back.
“People start singing to me ‘Three is the Magic Number.’ Most are adults,” said Director Cheryl Newman of Naperville. “But there are kids who saw it in school or whose parents bought the DVD.”
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the first “Schoolhouse Rock” segment appearing on television. In 1993, Theatrebam Chicago adapted the Emmy-award winning cartoon series for the stage and later had an off-Broadway run. The story features a new teacher who is nervous for his first day of school. At home, the “Schoolhouse Rock” characters come to life through his TV and help prepare him for class.
The show was originally written for a six-member cast, but WMC Productions adapted the script to an expanded cast of 61. Scott Ferguson, who directed and co-wrote the original “Schoolhouse Rock Live!,” will be attending WMC’s production.
“He’s really curious to see how we did it,” Newman said of the larger cast.
But just because there are more cast members doesn’t mean the musical numbers have changed.
“The songs are as you remember them from the cartoons,” Newman said.
The expanded cast allows every child who auditioned to participate, she said.
“I want to make sure everybody gets their moment in the sun,” Newman said. “This particular show, it is easy to do that. There are so many little parts.”
With cast members ranging in age from 1-year-old to adult (one actor wrote “ageless” on the audition form), entire families from throughout the area are able to participate in the show together.
“It’s so much fun; it’s a great way to spend your summer,” she said.
“Schoolhouse Rock Live!” is the first show in WMC Productions’s 2013-2014 season, with “Cheaper by the Dozen” slated to open in the fall. It also marks the first production since WMC changed back to its original name, having been known as Acorn Community Theatre for a while.
“We had a change in management,” said Newman, who is secretary of the non-profit organization. “We just wanted to signify there is a change in direction ... We are going to try to doing junior musicals.”
Junior musicals, which are shortened versions of popular musicals adapted for younger performers, will allow more people to participate because there is a chorus, she said. The organization plans to produce a kids-only show in the spring, she sad.
To help promote “Schoolhouse Rock Live!,” cast members recently performed a preview at Barnes & Noble in Naperville, and also marched in an area parade.