Saturday morning on stage
MARSHALL – When the actors for the upcoming Southwest Minnesota State University theater production wanted to research their roles, all they had to do was watch some cartoons.
The Southwest Minnesota State University theater department is presenting the musical “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, April 11-13, Friday-Saturday, April 19-20, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 20, at the SMSU Fine Arts Theatre. The show is being directed by SMSU theater professor Sheila Tabaka.
“Schoolhouse Rock Live!” takes the familiar ’70s Saturday morning cartoon series that taught kids about history, grammar and math through catchy songs like “Interplanet Janet,” “Unpack Your Adjectives” and “Conjunction Junction” and turns it into a full-length stage show. The main character, Tom, is worried about his first day of teaching and attempts to relax by watching television. In the show, various characters representing parts of his personality come from the set to help him with his students through the songs he remembered as a kid.
The cast of “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” includes Mark Bosveld, Joshua Johnson, Aaron Schuler, T’Shael Jones, Callie Frank, Sara Marie Mills, Madeline Hentges, Turi Jystad, Alex Pikala and Alec Otto.
Although Schoolhouse Rock pre-dates some of the cast members, they recalled a few of the numbers.
“I remember singing this stuff when I was in school,” Frank said, adding that she knew the “Preamble” song on the Constitution, along with the notable numbers “Conjunction Junction” and “Interjections.”
“My parents made it a point to have us watch Schoolhouse Rock when I was a kid,” said Jones. With the exception of “Do The Circulation,” Jones said she knew most of the songs.
Schuler said he wasn’t familiar with Schoolhouse Rock.
“As a kid, the only one I remember is ‘Conjunction Junction,'” he said. But in the last few weeks, Schuler said, he’s gotten to know the songs very well.
“It’s definitely different from anything I’ve ever done,” Schuler said. “It can get pretty demanding, but it’s nothing we can’t handle.”
Jystad said the show is full of energy. It is also fast-paced as well, said Jones.
“We go through 21 songs in an hour and 10 minutes,” Jones said.
“It’s pretty progressive,” Schuler said.
Jones said it’s interesting that the main character, Tom, has his own different takes on himself to portray all the Schoolhouse Rock songs in the show.
It’s Schuler’s first experience in college theater, and he said he’s never done any choreography as intense as it is in “Schoolhouse Rock Live!”
“There’s a lot of dancing, a lot to learn,” Jones added. “But now that we’ve got it down, it’s pretty easy.”
Jones said the show is definitely going to be a good time. She encourages the younger kids to come and learn something and the adults to come and sing along with the songs.