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Dooby Dooby Moo: Press
Oct 17 – Dec 6, 2009

From the Chicago Sun-Times

'Dooby Dooby Moo' a showcase for musical talent
October 23, 2009
By Jennifer Burklow

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

With its recent premiere of "Dooby Dooby Moo," Lifeline Theatre once again has done what it does so well -- adapted a popular children's book in a way that entertains kids and adults alike.

James E. Grote's adaptation remains true to the personalities of the beloved characters who populate Doreen Cronin's Farmer Brown book series. This is Grote's fourth adaptation from the series; he clearly knows the barnyard well.

Grote brings relevancy to the story by deftly weaving our country's economic woes into this tale about sharing your talents and pursuing your dreams -- with a few fun grammar lessons thrown in for good measure. Paired with toe-tapping music and catchy lyrics by George Howe and fast-paced direction from Shole Milos, this hourlong jolly musical will hook its audience (5- to 10-year-olds and their adult companions) from beginning to end.

The show starts with the arrival of Ewe (played with sweet sincerity by Amanda Link) at the barn door. Ewe has been laid off from the factory where she made sweaters; she's lost her confidence in her abilities and she's looking for a new job and home. That causes Duck, Cow, Pig and Farmer Brown to launch into their first tune, "Farmer Brown's Farm," which skillfully introduces the characters to Ewe and audience members unfamiliar with the crew. It also sets the stage for several hilarious plays on words involving homophones and synonyms, explained so that the youngest members of the audience are in on the jokes, too.

Farmer Brown (played with good cheer by Craig C. Thompson, who alternates in the role with Benjamin Kirberger) offers Ewe a job and the animals swing into "Routine," a bouncy song about work-focused Farmer Brown and the boring chores on the farm.

Routine makes the animals long for adventure, and Duck (Nathaniel Niemi, who nails the role of the farm's lovable resident troublemaker) finds the antidote when he borrows Farmer Brown's newspaper and discovers an ad for a talent show at the county fair. (Kudos to Howe for his delightful ditty about the value of newspapers.) Duck insists the animals compete because the grand prize is a slightly used trampoline, sure to alleviate the boredom of farm chores.

Led by the supremely confident Duck, the friends try to decide what they'll do for the talent show in the musical highlights of the show, "Trampoline/We Got the Talent" and "Singing and Sewing and Dancing." The actors energetically sing and dance their way through several musical and movement genres with lovely harmonizing and spot-on timing. Cow (played with bossy confidence by Heather Currie) shows off her vocal abilities; Pig (slyly played by Elizabeth Dowling) leaps and swirls to show off her dancing skills; Duck decides stand-up comedy is his forte and stage-shy Ewe offers to make their costumes.

The talent show, complete with a clever send-up of "American Idol," doesn't go as planned. Duck, Cow and Pig fail to impress the judges, but Ewe's costumes save the day and win the trampoline, providing a poignant lesson about staying true to your talents and dreams. Jana Anderson's whimsical costumes and Alan Donahue's colorful set contribute to the show's success.




From ChicagoStageReview.com

A Barnyard of Talent
October 28, 2009
By Robert Andersen

Lifeline Theatre scores another hit with their whimsical barnyard talent show!

That crazy duck over at Farmer Brown’s Barn is at it again. Last year Duck wanted to be President of the barn. This year Duck wants to win a talent show at the State Fair to get himself a trampoline. Once again James E. Grote has done a wonderful job of adapting Doreen Cronin’s charming books to the stage. The original music and lyrics by George Howe highlight the characters of this entertaining story and the talents of this gifted cast. Heather Currie, as Cow, and Amanda Link, as Ewe, deliver exceptional performances.

Director Shole Milos has brought together many of the original team members that created the previous Lifeline KidSeries hit Duck for President!, both on the stage and behind it. Some of the costumes have changed. The one that I miss is Duck’s, but Costume Designer Jana Anderson has visually realized beautiful costumes that according to my 11-year-old daughter, "looked like they were fun to wear." The book’s illustrator, Betsy Lewin, has done masterful work bringing the story to life on paper and Scenic Designer Alan Donahue captures that same essence on stage. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted more.

If there is a down side to this production it is that they have so little space to use. But don’t misunderstand my intention gentle reader, this production is absolutely delightful! It is somewhat overshadowed, in my opinion, by the ominous set of the main stage production of Treasure Island. To Duck’s defense now rush my two daughters, the aforementioned 11-year-old Emma, and my 4-year-old Evelyn: "what do you mean there was a ship on stage?" and "I want to go play on the farm!" They were completely oblivious. Well, actually Emma was the one who hit the nail on the head, "I knew that what was back there wasn’t a barn but the show was so good I didn’t care." There you have it, what better testament to the quality of a performance than that? Enough said.

Lifeline proves themselves the perfect theatrical playmates with their completely engaging Dooby Dooby Moo. Reward your kids and yourself this weekend with this brilliantly boisterous barnyard bash!




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