Reviewed by Wendy Irvine
I spent a delightful evening keeping one eye on Go, Dog. Go! at Virginia Rep’s Children’s Theatre at Willow Lawn and the other eye on the kids in the audience.
But first: quick backstory. I had twins eleven years ago and it wasn’t long before I realized that while I had two kids, I actually did everything once. I potty trained once. (Went surprisingly well.) Put my boys in basketball once. (At age ten. Yeah. They were geriatric compared to the other players.) Started a chore regimen once, but way too late. (Sigh.)
But the one thing I nailed? I stair-stepped my boys into live theater at age five by introducing them to Go, Dog. Go! Years ago, we took in this darling production on the West Coast and my two were riveted by the colors, the silliness, and the action on that stage. (Me? I had the opposite intro to theater. At a young age, I was taken to a show that was too adult and fell asleep before intermission.) Today I’m so thankful that my kids have an enormous appreciation for live theater. Nothing to sneeze at since live theater can appear insanely slow for those who’ve grown up on today’s electronics. If you’re not introduced to it’s awesomeness at the right time, it can be years before a kid returns to theater. If ever.
Which leads me back to Virginia Rep’s Go, Dog. Go! This awesome show is ideal for kids three to eight. (A worldly two-year-old might catch the humor.) Past age eight, most kids will cry, “corny,” but one of my boys has the impressive ability to shed the years and totally dig what’s before him on stage. (If you have one of those, rejoice! If you have the other – as I also do – bribe him with ice cream to be paid out after the show.)
As I mentioned, I kept one eye on the stage and the other on the kids who were screaming with laughter throughout the first act of Go, Dog. Go! Lots and lots of very loud kid-laughter (my eleven-year-old even turned around in his seat as in “why are they making so much noise?” Coming from my loudest child this was the funniest part of my entire evening). But tons of screaming and laughing and happiness can become tiring – as every parent well knows – so by the second act the kids quieted a bit, but continued to be truly riveted by the action on stage.
Go, Dog. Go! stays true to the P.D. Eastman book that appeared in everyone’s childhood in 1961. The performance is drenched in primary color (“Blue dog on yellow tree”) and things kids adore like playing under the covers (“Night is for sleep. Day is for play”), eating fun food, and driving cartoon-like cars. The songs are infectious – like the “Bow Wow Wow” song you will hear kids humming and singing at intermission. The six canine performers are a riot. My only lament? Wish I could have been a fly at rehearsal for the hilarious moments it produced. And, of course, the “Do you like my hat?” couple charmed with the show’s signature line. (Also loved the final hat: a shout-out to the costume designer.)
I can hear you now. The show sounds nice, but your oldest has soccer games. Your elderly cat isn’t eating and needs a vet visit. Your parents are hinting that they’d love to see the grandkids. And you’re overdue for a mammogram. I realize it doesn’t seem like it, but your button-nose people will be too-cool-for-school tweens approximately early next week. Childhood is magical and brief and I don’t care if your kitchen is a disaster and you haven’t had a sit-down dinner in a week. The window for introducing your young kids to live theater is wide open. So Fly, Parent. Fly! to this production before it closes.
Virginia Rep’s Children’s Theater at Willow Lawn presents Go, Dog. Go! Runs through August 3, 2014 with both 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. matinees. The show is a kid-friendly 75 minutes (with a 10-minute intermission). Ticket price: $15 per person, but you can save twenty-five percent by buying 2014-15 season tickets.
Tickets are available at Virginia Rep or call 804-282-2620.