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Click, Clack, Moo: Press
Oct 16 – Dec 5, 2010

From Chicago Theater Blog

Fun for kids of all ages
October 21, 2010
By K.D. Hopkins

I had my favorite associate reviewers with me for the Lifeline Theatreís production of Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type. My niece Lexi and my nephew David are great barometers of what is funny without the filters of adulthood. Fortunately, this excellent show was a gem of comic timing and great music -- even as I wear my grownup glasses.

The story is simple and universal. Cow 1, Cow 2, Hen, and Duck want better accommodations. The cows and the hen are freezing their respective hides and feathers off in the barn. Duck is bored with the lily pad and wants to spice up his pond. The animals have a barrier in communicating with Farmer Brown and then the hilarity ensues.

Understudy Mallory Nees, who was fabulous in The Blue Shadow, also at Lifeline, played Cow 1. She is the more logical of the cows and tries to find a sensible way to get through to farmer Brown. Lakhiyia Hicks plays the role of Cow 2. Her character wants to give Farmer Brown a knuckle sandwich until Hen reminds her that she doesnít have traditional knuckles. Christina Hall plays hen with great aplomb and gleefulness. Hicks and Hall have a wonderful banter about chicken breath and cow mouth that had the audience in stitches. Yes, itís juvenile. But itís funny!

Ryotaro Shigeta plays the role of diplomatic Duck. Shigeta is charming and ebullient in the role. Duck has a great secret weapon in the super high definition remote control that drops from the ceiling. The remote allows us to translate cow, hen, and duck talk. It also rewinds the characters and pauses. Derek Czaplewski plays the hapless Farmer Brown who lives the sounds of the farm and is greatly disturbed when the animals become revolutionaries for warmth in the barn.

Farmer Brown makes the mistake of storing some old books and a typewriter in the barn where the animals live. Cow 2 sees that the books are by Karl Marx, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, and George Orwell. She is called to revolution and wants to get Farmer Brown off of the farm so that the animals can take over like in Orwellís book. Cow 1 tells her to read the whole story because it might not be as great as that seems. Itís a great lesson for kids in getting the whole story and communicating so that everyone involved can understand. Itís funny on an adult level because we know how Orwell turns out. Itís funny on a kid level because Cow 2 is just funny pumping her fist in the air and declaring Ďpower to the animals!í

Hallís hen is really sweet as she wonders what happens to her eggs. It is another great lesson in knowing your worth and the value of your work for children.

The musical numbers are smooth and well choreographed. The song ĎAn Electric Blanket Looks Like Homeí is done in 60ís girl group style. The music is cool and the dance moves are worthy of a Supreme or Vandella.

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type is from a series by author Doreen Cronin and illustrator Betsy Lewin. It is in the series that Lifeline has continued from Dooby Dooby Moo, and Duck for President.

Illustrator Lewin was on hand to sign the books on Sunday and the cast was most accommodating in signing autographs in person. Once again, Lifeline has done a stellar job of bringing the theater experience to people of all ages. I am a firm believer that children should be exposed to the theater more than the movies. There is real magic in this production. It is the magic that allows a childís mind to roam in imagination rather than be stifled and homogenized by impossible special effects. Lexi and David gave it their definite seal of approval. This miracle came in the form of one full hour of rapt focus and laughter.

Of course it should be said that David has deemed me the best auntie in the world. That is a comment that one doesnít hear often and it isnít doled out all willy-nilly. They loved the brightly colored set, the great music, and dancing. Most of all, they love the theater experience in our own backyard of Rogers Park. It is a cool thing to read about something on your oat Oís box and then to see it live. Kudos to Lifeline for an amazing and fun show that shows the value of follow-through, problem solving, and cooperation. The play is an hour long and will hold your childís attention as well as yours. I recommend this play even if you donít have a grade school kid to take along. The double entendre is more than worthy for a laugh and memories of urban studies or political science classes. Come on and raise a hoof for a warm barn and bovine rights!

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