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Review of Busy Town at The Children’s Theatre Company

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Quote of the Day:  Scarry’s technique allowed him to work pretty loosely with his watercolors, and he’d frequently paint off-register. This gave his illustrations an even more lighthearted quality. ~ Google’s Mike Dutton, quote from the program guide of Busy Town, playing at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, through October 26, 2014. Actor Dean Holt (who plays Lowly Worm and other characters in this production), describes Scarry’s books as “a cross between Where’s Waldo? and I Spy.” The colors and whimsical characters, not to mention the cleverness of a Pickle Car, keep you gazing at the pictures long past your bedtime. My oldest son, Bobby, and I read and read and read Richard Scarry’s Busy World. I started telling him he could pick three countries that we’d visit before saying our prayers and turning out the light and tucking him into bed. Not only does Richard Scarry paint colorful pictures for us, he sparks our imagination, and sneaks in a bit of learning that feels like discovering something new!

Autumn Ness, Meghan Kreidler, Reed Sigmund, Gerald Drake, Dean Holt, Kasono MwanzA  Busy Town photos provided by CTC, photographer Dan Norman

Autumn Ness, Meghan Kreidler, Reed Sigmund, Gerald Drake, Dean Holt, Kasono MwanzA
Busy Town photos provided by CTC, photographer Dan Norman

This production of Busy Town, the Musical was adapted for the stage by Kevin Kling, music and lyrics by Kevin Kling and Michael Koerner, directed by Sean Graney, and choreographed by Tommy Rapley. The music is jazzy and bouncy and causes some definite seat wiggling. I’m still humming Busy town, da-da, da da da, de dum. Busy Town, mm. hmm. Add a little bepoppin’ around the stage and you can’t help tapping at least a toe! You can listen to some of the songs at the Children’s Theatre website. (They include the song “Pickle Car.” If you’re having a traffic moment, dial this one up. It’s bound to make you smile, if not make the other non-pickle cars move faster.) Victor Zupanc is a master musician who is truly part of the production in the pit with his floppy ears hat and subtle interaction with the actors and story.

Pickle Car! Kasono Mwanza,  Reed Sigmund Photo by Dan Norman

Pickle Car! Kasono Mwanza, Reed Sigmund
Photo by Dan Norman

While watching Busy Town, we learned about writing letters, and how important it is to get them to Grandma before the party. We learned that houses have addresses so the letter carriers know where to bring the letter, which has a stamp on it, and a very important invitation. We learned where Birthday cakes come from. (First, you need a Birthday, of course!) They start with seeds that grow in the ground that turn into wheat, and we watched how bread rises and is alive! Most importantly, we learned how a community works together and that each person has a special job.

A Birthday Cake mishap! Time to call on a Baker. Autumn Ness, Reed Sigmund, photo by Dan Norman

A Birthday Cake mishap causes everyone to get very busy! Time to call on a Baker.
Autumn Ness, Reed Sigmund, photo by Dan Norman

Busy Town is appealing to kids from preschool through early elementary school, and for any older audience member who likes happy, bouncy musicals with great jazzy music, choreography, enthusiastic actors, and gorgeous staging. The Children’s Theatre always gives the audience surprises that delight kids young and old! Visit the Children’s Theatre website for tickets and showtimes. Up next at The Children’s Theatre is Seedfolk and Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! 

Go. Create. Inspire! 

Journaling Prompt:  What do you do in your community? Do you live in a Busy Town, too?

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