Unlike productions aimed at adults, where a myriad of biases and opinions tend to create arguments over what worked and what didn’t in a new play, I have always found the easiest way to judge a children’s theater performance is by the excitement and smiles I see on the faces of the children. If a group of actors can keep toddlers and young ones invested for 45 minutes, that’s a telling sign of success.
With my little one, Cassidy Paige, in tow, I headed to NextStop Family’s production of Go Dog Go and smiles were abundant from the very first site of the six actors pretending to be dogs, and the fun never stopped.
Based on the 1961 children’s classic book, written and illustrated by P. D. Eastman, the musical brings the actions and interactions of a group of highly mobile dogs, who operate cars, play games and climb trees, to fun-tastic life.
Though the book itself uses only 75 different words, Allison Gregory and Steven Diaz were able to adapt the story into several segments that when put together, created a fun story revolving around one dog’s quest to get another to like her hat.
Maggie Erwin plays Hattie, the dog in search of hat validation, and has a lovely song aptly titled “Do You Like My Hat,” that is so catchy, my daughter and I both find ourselves singing the song a day later.
Unfortunately, that’s the only song in the production, and perhaps a fun upbeat tune would have been a welcome addition.
A standout among the six actors is Sherry Berg, who plays “Yellow Dog.” Utilizing a playful, child-like voice (reminding me of a young Kristin Chenoweth from You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown), Berg’s expressions and interaction with the little ones in the audience shows a natural gift for acting for children.
Steven Soto as “MC Dog” also seems to know how to play to the kids, turning his “I do not like your hat!” reply into something funny rather than mean, thanks to his silly expressions and smiles.
Rounding out the cast are Ashley Buster as “Red Dog,” Katie Nigsch-Fairfax as “Blue Dog” and Mikey Cafarelli as “Green Dog,” and all are having a good time frolicking on stage.
Go, Dog, Go!
Closes November 10, 2013
NextStop Theatre Company
at The Industrial Strength Theater
269 Sunset Park Drive
Herndon, VA 20170
45 minutes, no intermission
Saturdays and Sundays
Details and Tickets
Of course, as those who have read the classic book hundreds of times know, eventually MC Dog likes Hattie’s hat and all is right in the world of dogs. There’s no huge lesson to be learned from the story, but still, it’s a lot of fun.
Be sure to stay after to meet the cast and get a special doggie treat (that’s perfect for humans!)
Best for children ages eight and younger.
Go, Dog, Go! . Adapted by Allison Gregory and Stephen Dietz from the book Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman . Directed by Ray Ficca . Featuring Katie Nigsch-Fairfax, Sherry Berg, Maggie Erwin, Mikey Cafarelli, Ashley Buster and Steven Soto . Produced by NextStop Theatre Company . Reviewed by Keith Loria.