‘School House’ rocks again

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By Andrea R. Solis

The cast of the production “School House Rock!”. (Courtesy of Performance Riverside)

By Andrea R. Solis

All aboard! First stop “Conjunction Junction.”

A live performance of the popular series of children’s cartoons, “School House Rock” was given by Performance Riverside on May 6 in the Landis Auditorium.

The educational cartoons which began running on ABC in the ’70’s have entertained and educated the youth for over 30 years.

“I saw them when I was growing up on the Saturday morning cartoons,” said Cheryl Salgado, who brought her daughter and her daughter’s friend to see the show.

After a couple of bars of each song, it seemed many of the parents in the audience easily remembered the songs that had taught them tidbits about math, science, history and grammar.

“School House Rock! Live!” tells the story of Tommy, a tired boy with a big test to study for, who drifts off to sleep and meets a merry band of friendly facts (played by the rest of the cast) who help him study while he is dreaming.

The people in his dream tell him that they are all the things he has learned, in human form, and proceed to take him on a musical crash course through grade school curriculum.

The mnemonic devices were clever, catchy and smattered with elementary level humor which tickled the funny bones of the children in the audience.

In fact, you could call the kids captivated because during an almost 90- minute performance geared toward those around 10 and under only a couple of children walked out with their parents for breaks during the show.

The song “Ready or Not, Here I Come” about multiplying by fives was a big hit with the crowd and parents and adults could be seen working together to count and multiply by fives on their fingers while tapping their toes to the music.

If you happen to be taking a political science class right now you would have gotten some handy and accurate review material from the songs “I’m just a Bill,” which describes the lawmaking process in Congress, and “The Preamble”.

Although unintentional, the children’s play with its 30 -year-old songs even found a roundabout way to cover current events.

Murmurs could be heard from the grown-ups in the audience during the “Melting Pot” song which described the history of immigration in America.

Every English teacher would have been thrilled to know that there were four songs covering parts of speech-nouns, verbs, adjectives and interjections.

Fourth graders Courtney Tavenner and Amanda Salgado who attend Taft Elementary chool said that the play was as good as the cartoons which they watched last year in their third grade class.

To commemorate the 30 anniversary of the series, Disney released the cartoons on DVD in 2002 making them available for new generations to see.

The success of the play in bringing the cartoons to life would be welcome news to Performance Riverside’s Outreach director, Chuck Abernathy, who said that the idea of children’s theater was to “create our replacements” both on the performance side of the arts as well as its viewers.

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