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Class rockets to Planet Pop Culture for ‘Schoolhouse Rock Live!’ show

The Coterie's "Schoolhouse Rock Live!"

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Based on Emmy-winning animated educational series on ABC TV from the 1970s-90s, The Coterie’s newest production, “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” jettisoned on stage to an over-packed house Friday night April 12 to run through May 18.

 “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” continues through May 18 at The Coterie in Kansas City.  Martin Buchanan (as Mr. E.). (Background) Shelby Floyd (as Shulie), Seth M. Jones (as Tom) & Emily Shackelford (as Dori) in "Schoolhouse Rock Live!"
“Schoolhouse Rock Live!” continues through May 18 at The Coterie in Kansas City. Martin Buchanan (as Mr. E.). (Background) Shelby Floyd (as Shulie), Seth M. Jones (as Tom) & Emily Shackelford (as Dori) in "Schoolhouse Rock Live!"
J. Robert Schraeder and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre
"Schoolhouse Rock Live!" at Kansas City's The Coterie Theatre
The Coterie Theatre

Mr. E. ( Martin Buchanan) takes his class of five inquisitive minds to Planet Pop Culture to explore life in the not so distant past. His students discovered cassette tapes, boom boxes, bean bag chairs, roller skates, and other items on the new planet. And, while visiting for the day, they magically knew all the songs and lyrics from the former Schoolhouse Rock TV series–which they took turns performing and acting out, to the delight of the ringside younguns’ and seated elders.

“Schoolhouse Rock Live!” moves and grooves to fast music and great choreography to keep the lively, fast-paced show engaging to the targeted audience. Directed by Ron Megee, “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” teaches history, grammar, math, science, and government through the six character cast. Choreography, by Missy Koonce kept all members of the cast moving constantly for the hour production.

Some of the songs included in the show, “Just a Bill,” “Interplanet Janet,” “Sufferin’ Till Suffrage, and “ ”The Preamble,” are just a few of the treasures from the original TV series. The cast sings and dances through many more.

Sources from The Coterie said that the cast performs two versions of the show. One, a family-friendly edition appropriate for all ages (elementary thought adult, is for daytime, matinee performances. A second version targets adults and teens 13 years of age and older, The Coterie presents the older-special “Rowdy sing-Along” edition of “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” on every Saturday night at 9 p.m.. The Coterie both encourages and rewards those brave attendees to wear their PJ’s to the show and receive a free bowl of cereal prior to the performance.

Guaranteed fun, guaranteed laughs, guaranteed smiles, guaranteed applause, guaranteed entertainment for the entire-family–what more can be said of The Coterie’s “Schoolhouse Rock Live!”? The show delights, entertains and energizes the audience. No one leaves with a frown on his or her face.

Besides Buchanan, the cast includes: Emily Shackleford as Dori, Seth M. Jones as Tom, Shelby Floyd as Shulie, and the ultra-energized and animated Francisco Javier Villegas as George. Creatively, the other half of the production follows Megee as director. The creative team includes: Anthony T. Edwards, music; Koonce, choreography; Sarah White, set; Art Kent, lighting; Georgianna Londre Buchanan, costumes; Daniel Warneke, sound; Mary Nichols, properties; William J. Christie, production stage manager; Scott Hobart, technical director/carpenter; Chloe N. Robbins-Anderson, production assistant; Amanda Kibler, edublog resource content editor; Chris Roady, house manager.

The cast makes the show even more fun. When watching, it’s obvious that the cast is not working–they are playing. They enjoy the show and it shows in their performance. Villegas said after opening night that the energy from the crowd helps him and the others enjoy the show more and more. Shackleford and Buchanan echoed his words. They acknowledged that every aspect is fun.

All of the cast performs admirably. Their voices are strong and solid, and their delivery and animation is wonderful. Take special note of Buchanan as the teacher and Villegas as George. They genuinely wear their characters with each expression and reaction throughout the show.

The collaboration of artists and crew crafted a masterpiece for young and mature viewers. The music is fun and lively. The singing and dancing are guaranteed to please. The smiles and laughs bubble up, naturally. Applause praises each song. And, even the warm-ups to the show get the audience moving while announcements about cell phones and exits generate audience participation throughout the auditorium. What fun.

Parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles plan a family outing and see the show. The show has something for everyone. For tickets and show times, check out the web site: thecoterie.org.