Want to attend a musical dog party? Now’s your chance. Childsplay Theatre brings “Go, Dog. Go!” to Tempe Center for the Arts on weekends Nov. 25-Dec. 23.
The play is adapted from the P.D. Eastman reading primer that contains only 75 different words. But the show promises plenty of surprises, singing and barking, six lovable dogs, plus audience participation and lots of physical comedy.
“My approach is using physical comedy in a clowning way, to get a lot of the story across in places where we don’t have words,” says director Andrés Alcala. “The physical comedy in the show is so universal that grandmas, grandpas, daughters, mothers, even teens are going to laugh at the absurdity.”
It’s the first production Childsplay has staged since announcing its performances will move to the Herberger Theater Center for its 2018-2019 season next fall. In part, the change was announced because the City of Tempe wanted to diversify its offerings at the Tempe Center for the Arts. Childsplay, Arizona Opera and Arizona Broadway Theatre are all joining the Herberger as resident companies next year.
“We are thrilled to be back performing at this beautiful theatre complex and so happy to be joining the Center’s wonderful family of resident companies,” says Dwayne Hartford, Childsplay’s artistic director. “While our public performances will be in Phoenix starting in September 2018, our offices and academy classes will remain at our Campus for Imagination and Wonder at Tempe’s Mitchell Park.”
“Go, Dog. Go!” was written by Allison Gregory and Steven Dietz, with music by Michael Koerner.
“We want to instill wonder and imagination to the children as they’re watching the show, and we tried to implement as many details of the book as we could,” says Alcala. “Here they are using their imaginations in a different way than reading the book over and over, or re-enacting it in their bedroom.”
When asked what’s special about this show, Jon Gentry, who plays MC Dog, says, “Many of the drawings are iconic for young people, like the ‘Mona Lisa’ or ‘Starry Night’ would be to an older audience.”
He notes that everyone always wonder what’s behind the Mona Lisa smile. “Isn’t it just as puzzling as what’s behind the Dog in the roller skates?” he asks. “Seeing how a single image on the page becomes a whole vignette is so much fun!” He adds that he likes “how so many times the dogs come together to help, work and play with each other.”
Other cast members include Caitlin Dhuse as Yellow Dog, Brynn Lewallen as Green Dog, Jennie Rhiner as Hattie, Adam Sowards as Blue Dog and Michael Thompson as Red Dog.
“Go, Dog. Go!” is recommended for ages 3 and up.
Gentry’s recommendation? “Just everyone come see this show!”
If you go: Weekends Nov. 25-Dec. 23; 1 and 4 p.m. Saturdays; 1 p.m. Sundays; Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe. $12-$30. $12 Storybook Preview 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 25. 480-350-2822 (ext. 2) or childsplayaz.org.