BWW Reviews: DUCK FOR PRESIDENT is a Fun, Effervescent Comedy
Main Street Theater's Theater for Youth 2012-2013 Season is starting with a resounding QUACK! To help young audiences understand the electoral process in the United States, they are producing the effervescent and spritely comedy DUCK FOR PRESIDENT. The show is based on Doreen Cronin's National Best-Seller by the same title, and features a script by James E. Grote and music and lyrics by George Howe.
DUCK FOR PRESIDENT tells the story of barnyard animals that would rather play than do chores for Farmer Brown. This prompts Pig to convince Duck he should run for Farmer. The animals hold an election, and Duck is elected to be Farmer. When Farmer proves to be a harder job than Duck expected, Pig convinces Duck to run for Governor of the state and eventually for President of the United States of America.
Mark Adams direction is crisp and moves the show along at a pace that is sure to engage and entertain children ranging from about 4 to 9 years in age. This is not to say that kids 10 and older wouldn't enjoy the show, parents and guardians just may have to convince them that they are not too "cool" for it. Additionally, with help from the writing team, Mark Adams has ensured that adults attending with their children will laugh just as much as the kids, instilling references to the portrait "Washington Crossing the Delaware," the statue of the soldiers at Iwo Jima, and having his cast appropriately recreate infamous presidential sound bites (i.e. "I'm not a crook").
Starring as Duck, Chokie Coreathers is magnanimous. Completely committed to the characterization, he has impressively added a duck-inspired lilt (lisp even) to his voice. The children in the audience are drawn to his larger-than-life stage presence and really glow when they get to interact with him during the moments when the fourth wall is broken.
Jessica Knapp's Pig is fantastically intelligent and she does a great job communicating information to the audience in a way that is easy to understand and is ultimately accessible. The children seemed to really be devouring the information she was giving to them, and hopefully left with a better grasp on how democratic elections work.
Cow, portrayed by Katie Harrison, was a delight. Katie Harrison works the crowd well, interacting with adults and children alike. She is tremendously comedic and has a real knack for drawing out peals of laughter.
Laruren Dolk's Hen is a pleasure as well. Also imbued with a great sense of comedic timing, she has expertly captured the character. Being the one farm animal that enjoys Farmer Brown as farmer, she is the catalyst for the explanations of how to keep elections fair and safe for everyone, regardless of viewpoints. Even in 2012, this is a message that still carries a lot of weight and is impactful for child and adult alike.
Alan Hall adroitly plays Farmer Brown and the other human roles. His opening narration captures the audiences' attention and his character serves to move the show along, which he does with the utmost professionalism and style.
Claire A. Jac Jones's scenic design is immaculate for the production. Using red, white, and blue as her primary color palette she has expertly captured both the barnyard feel and political zeitgeist. Furthermore, her inclusion of versatile and movable crates that can be used to create a barn scene, lecterns, and a desk is simply inspired.
Eric L. Marsh's lighting design is a simplistic yet fantastic compliment to the set, often employing the red, white, and blue palette of colors to strong and enchanting effect.
Of the technical aspects, perhaps the most stunning and amazing are Macy Perrone's magnificently engineered costume designs. Utilizing mostly stereotypic farm attire, she has created pieces that are very evocative of the animals being played. Her pig costume uses light pinks, bloomer-like bottoms that accentuate the hips, paisley patterned ears, and an audacious pink and white wig to really convey the silhouette of a pig without losing the human elements of the actress. Her costuming for Duck included tan jodhpurs with tall orange boots and a white baseball style hat with an orange bill flipped up to give the impression of a duck. Her Cow was bedecked in white and black from head to toe and had elements of cowgirl regalia, including a fringed jacket, while her Hen had a chicken shaped hairdo with red bangs and a ruffled skirt that easily conveyed hen to the audience. The costuming choices were nothing short of a functional and genius blend of fashions to imply the characters.
DUCK FOR PESIDENT as produced by Main Street Theater's Theater for Youth program is truly something that everyone can enjoy. Everything about the production works and is just as enticing for the adults in the audience as it is for the children who it is intended for. There is no skimping on production value, which really allows children to be exposed to every aspect of good and legitimate theatre in a venue that is designed to be better suited to accommodate their desires and needs. These wondrous experiences will prove invaluable in helping children learn theatre etiquette and prepare them for shows like ANNIE and WICKED, while providing entertaining and captivating performances geared toward their specific demographic.
DUCK FOR PREIDENT runs until October 27, 2012 at Main Street Theater's Chelsea market location. For more information and tickets, please visit http://www.mainstreettheater.com/youththeater/youththeater.html or call (713) 524 – 6706.
Chioke Coreathers as Duck.