Adventure Theater’s adaptation of Go, Dog. Go! captures all the best elements of the book: fun, action, and drama. Director Karen Abromaitis does an excellent job of working with the author’s requirement that only words from the book be used. Those few words are enough.
Matt Dewberry as MC Dog sets the romp-like tone of the show. Early on, he initiates a call and response sequence with the audience which pulls us in and keeps us watching. Dewberry then leads the other five very busy “dogs” through a variety of activities including playing, eating lunch, swimming, driving cars, sleeping, and ultimately having a big party. The constant movement – running, climbing, gymnastics – by a very athletic cast, had me wondering where to look first. Some scenes include group songs (Go, Dog. Go! is particularly tuneful) and there’s a lovely surprise solo by Spotted Dog (Mundy Spears) at the end. But most breaks in the “script” have the actors gesticulating or miming, punctuated by oohs, ahhs, and groans.
The swimming scene, with a change in lighting from bright primaries to a mellow blue (but including the requisite bubbles) offers a welcome respite from all the coming and going. I overheard a little girl behind me say, “This is nice and relaxing.”
It’s amazing how a simple old-fashioned kazoo can generate such pleasure. Giggles abound when the dogs play a kazoo song during their lunch. Additionally entertaining are the wind-up penguin and chicken toys that waddle across the makeshift lunch table.
The dog make-up is charming and helps differentiate the characters, as do the brilliant costumes by Helen Hayes Award winner Reggie Ray. And it’s fun to wonder in what new and imaginative way the dogs will use the equipment on stage. The quick and seamless scene changes help maintain the show’s fast pace.
One disappointing scene is the climactic party in the tree. Perhaps because of all the action beforehand, it doesn’t have that over-the-top festiveness conveyed so beautifully in the book. The tree made of ribbons is beautiful, but there’s no sense of this event as bigger and better than everything else. And how can you have a party without food?
Still, I believe it when I read that Go, Dog. Go! is “back by popular demand.” True to the book, it is full of humor, color and movement. Kids will enjoy it. Even the youngest of them. The one-year old in front of me sat transfixed for the entire show.
Go, Dog. Go!
Based on the book by P.D. Eastman
Adapted by Allison Gregory and Steven Dietz
Music and Lyrics by Michael Koerner
Directed by Karin Abromaitis
Produced by Adventure Theater
Reviewed by Miriam Chernick
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