Tuesday, November 1, 2016

reviews - ROCK THE PRESIDENTS - Childsplay

highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through November 13th.

"... Childsplay Theatre’s exuberant musical Rock The Presidents returns to the stage...and with it comes a welcome sense of civility and even reverence for the highest office in the land and for the people who strive to serve within its Oval Office walls. The family oriented, rock ‘n roll musical is both a concert and a history lesson,...Ted (Alan Khoutakoun), Amy (Jacqueline Castillo) and Harry (Devon Nickel) who... never quit singing and dancing, and it comes at us at full tilt from the get-go. It’s not just the sound that’s turned to eleven, it’s the energy. ..writer and lyricist Dwayne Hartford, with music by Sarah Roberts, has chosen a concert approach to tell us something about each and every president. ...Throughout this colorful and undeniably fun, musical show there is so much to learn that it might be worth taking notes. ...There’s boundless invention in Hartford’s book as different subjects and political themes are presented. ..Among all the good-natured humor, the show also tackles moments of poignancy and reflection. ..Because the show is told almost exclusively in song and dance, with great musical support from it’s seven piece band under Mark 4man’s musical direction, it’s difficult to tell where Anthony Runfola’s direction ends and Molly Lajoie’s choreography begins, but it doesn’t matter; the end result is what’s important, and Rock The Presidents definitely rocks......" -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"Rock the Presidents is a fun and informative musical revue by Dwayne Hartford and Sarah Roberts that effectively tackles the topic of the men who have served as the president of the United States. It makes for a modern day version of "Schoolhouse Rock," ...as it both teaches and entertains at the same time with a fun musical score. After premiering in 2012, this original Childsplay production is back for the third time with a talented trio of performers who keep the material fresh and fun.
The show..salutes the most famous of the presidents, but also focuses on some of the mostly forgotten ones and tackles other subjects including the first ladies and the pets of the White House. While the show mentions every U.S. president, it obviously can't focus in depth on each of the 43 men who have served in that position in the 90-minute length. It does provide plenty of interesting facts and trivia as well as some in-depth analysis on the most memorable presidents....The score features memorable melodies with Roberts' music that includes rock, pop, and a bit of country and folk. While Hartford's lyrics are whimsical, his book has a somewhat loose structure which makes the journey a bit meandering, and some jokes that aren't that funny. However, while the format of the show may be scattered, the range of material is interesting and intriguing. The fun format also features one song that is presented as a live action video game and some segments that allow for audience participation which helps test their knowledge on these famous men. The exceptional cast of three—Jacqui Castillo, Devon Nickel, and Alan Khoutakoun—are used continually throughout the 90-minute show. They each get several solo moments to show off their vocal skills and they provide plenty of superb background harmonies. The combination of the talented cast with Anthony Runfola's fun direction and the always changing and inventive choreography by Molly Lajoie keeps the show upbeat and entertaining with energy levels that never drop. Limitrophe Films has created the excellent projection design for this production which provides a neverending stream of photo, video and graphic designs that complement and add to the material in the lyrics. ...While there are a few hiccups from the show's corny humor and loose book, Childsplay's talented cast and exceptional creative aspects make the end result a fun and informative show. Rock the Presidents will also most likely send intrigued audience members, both young and old, to do some additional research on the presidents. Giving theatregoers the basis to seek out more knowledge is always a good result and shows, once again, why Childsplay is one of the best educational and entertaining theatre companies in town. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"... “Rock the Presidents”...cleverly teaches while engagingly entertaining young audiences about the 43 men who have led this country in good and bad times....The sprightly musical uses very contemporary Sarah Roberts rock catchy tunes and craftily told history interestingly framed by playwright Dwayne Hartford that uses age-appropriate swinging songs and undulating rhetoric to explain each Presidents’ strengths and weaknesses. ...the wildly imaginative show uses vivid and colorful projections to depict each presidents portrait and a bit of that periods historic events. ...lots of interesting details are learned at “Rock the Presidents.”  Revealing these fascinating tidbits in simple words doesn’t do the clever nuances the show finds and is exploited in Anthony Runfola’s wildly playful and explosive staging. Words also can’t convey the impeccable three-person cast’s explosive verve as they move rapidly through the spirited American history lesson with energetic panache that engulfs the audience.  ... “Rock the Presidents” reminds audiences how diverse our country’s collective leadership has been. " --Chris Curcio, KBAQ (click here to read the complete review)

"...“Rock the Presidents,”..using a grab bag of pop styles to deliver a civics lesson with equal parts sincere patriotism and goofy humor. A cast of three (Alan Khoutakoun, Jacqueline Castillo and Devon Nickel)...sing about presidents famed, infamous and obscure..With music by Sarah Roberts and lyrics by Dwayne Hartford, many of the songs are cutesy, but some are genuinely moving, including a folk-rock ballad about the New Deal titled “The Only Thing We Have to Fear.”...As the most vitriolic election in recent memory grinds to a close, “Rock the Presidents” has a patriotic message that maybe adults needs to hear even more than kids. " Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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