Lifeline Theatre’s acclaimed KidSeries has had good luck with the silly bucolic tales of Doreen Cronin (illustrated by Betsy Lewin), from 2003’s production of Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type to 2012’s Duck for President. A large part of the success of these family musicals comes from the fact that adapter James E. Grote and composer George Howe know how to appeal to kids and their parents alike, with pop cultural references for the latter and silly wordplay and physical humor for the youngs (and young at heart).
Dooby Dooby Moo Through 12/11: Sat-Sun 11 AM and 1 PM; Sat 11/19 performances open captioning, Sat 12/3 11 AM features touch tour at 9:30 AM and live audio description, Sun 12/4 11 AM sensory-friendly performance; Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood, 773-761-4477, lifelinetheatre.com, $20
In Dooby Dooby Moo (directed by Heather Currie), we’re back at Farmer Brown’s—the most enchanting rural enclave since Babe turned up on that New Zealand sheep farm. Speaking of sheep: the newest animal to join Farmer Brown’s team (a place where no animals are apparently ever slaughtered) is Ewe. No, not YOU—Ewe! (Yes, the homophone gets put to frequent use throughout the show’s hourlong run, but kids like repetition, as anyone who has sat through endless minor variations on a knock-knock joke can tell you.)
A shy sheep recently laid off from the sweater factory, Ewe (Danielle Kerr) joins Cow (Sarah Beth Tanner), Pig (Jennifer Ledesma), and Duck (Brian Tochterman Jr., whose look-at-me comic-dorky antics and styling duds made me think of another “Ducky” made popular in John Hughes’s Pretty in Pink—pardon that Gen X digression). Though Farmer Brown (Scott Sawa) is generally a good guy, he doesn’t like that his animals go off on adventures once in a while. And since, other than Ewe, his animals all harbor big ambitions, keeping them in the barn is a challenge.
This time, their plan is to win a trampoline being offered as first prize in the county fair talent show. Which one of the animals will most impress the panel of puppet judges (which includes MooPaul and Simon Cowbell)? Singer Cow? Dancer Pig? Comedian Duck? Or, will shy Ewe somehow become a dark horse?
It’s all bright, goofy fun that knows how not to talk down to its audience. At one point at the performance I attended, Tochterman’s Duck delivered a joke that predictably fell flat, and asked the audience “Do you get it?” One young lad in the house responded with admirable honesty, “No!” Aly Renee Amidei’s clever costumes hint at the species-specific requirements of the characters without making them look like a furry convention (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) If you’re looking for something for the family to enjoy this season that isn’t filled with tinsel and holly, Dooby Dooby Moo may well fill the bill.