CATCO is Kids and the Davis Performing Arts Program for Youth have teamed up again for another wonderful, entertaining show starring Columbus’s own young actors. The musical School House Rock Live! premiered last weekend for a two-weekend engagement and I was incredibly impressed by the entire production.
The story centers around Tom, a teacher who is anxious about his first day. While getting ready in the morning, he finds himself surrounded by the various characters in his head—and on his television—who begin to sing the educational School House Rock songs from his childhood to remind him that he knows all he needs to know in order to be a great teacher.
The premise is simple, and the set on stage is simple too, but that’s a large part of the musical’s charm. The cast doesn’t need elaborate costumes or moving set pieces, they don’t need a complex story with multiple named characters, and they don’t need a huge pit orchestra. Between the images on the single drop-down screen in the background, and the old-fashioned television in the foreground, it really feels like you’re watching the old School House Rock cartoons from your childhood. Those cartoons weren’t overly complex, so if this musical rendition was it would feel incredibly out of place.
The young cast is brilliant. Playing the sole named character, Tom, Buddy Frontz is charming and confident—he never missed a beat. The rest of the amazing 35-child cast, all from the Columbus area, are full of energy and it’s obvious the entire show how much fun they are all having on the stage. There’s so much talent in this cast, and it will be wonderful to see if some of these young stars grow up to star in the older CATCO shows in the future!
Particularly impressive is how much music and performance is packed into the 60-minute show. The cast sings nearly every famous School House Rock song that anyone would know at the drop of a hat, and they do so accompanied with exciting choreography and hilarious interactions.
School House Rock Live! is definitely a musical for both children and adults; the children will love seeing their peers on stage and love the catchy songs, and the adults will love reliving their childhoods. School House Rock Live! will be playing at the Columbus Performing Arts Center (Shedd Theatre) through April 14.