Longtime fans as well as newcomers to the children’s book Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by author Doreen Cronin and illustrator Betsy Lewin will be enchanted by the marvelous production at Columbia Children’s Theatre. Through songs like “Music To My Ears” and “Electric Blankets Feel Like Home,” the musical by James E. Grote and George Howe invites audiences into the amusing and often surprising world of Farmer Brown and his animals.
When the barn residents discover a typewriter, their newfound ability to communicate with the farmer develops into a dramatic standoff: no milk or eggs until the animals get electric blankets. As Farmer Brown protests, “Cows that type. Hens on strike! Whoever heard of such a thing?” Farmer Brown is played by talented performer Julian Deleon, who brings the beleaguered character to life with engaging charisma. Jackie Rowe sparkles in the fierce and funny role of the Hen, while Paul Lindley II charms the audience as Duck, serving as both narrator and participant in this farmyard tale. Frances Farrar and Georgie Harrington excel as the title characters: Cows 1 and 2 are vibrant individuals with impressive commitment and loads of personality. At certain shows, Taylor Diveley (Duck), Brandi Smith (Cow 1), Imani Ross-Jackson (Cow 2) and Erica Cooper (Hen) will perform.
Cast members capitalize on the physical comedy made feasible by a remote control feature with humorous “rewinding” and “translating” from animal speak. The script retains key elements from the beloved book while also opening up inventive possibilities. For instance, while Duck is presented as a “neutral party” in the book, the play suggests a more complex (and hilarious) situation. Guided by accomplished director Jerry Stevenson, the production team has crafted an appealing farm experience with a touch of whimsy and a whole lot of creativity. Just wait till you see the clever take on a duck pond as realized by set designer Robert Michalski. Costumer Donna Harvey evokes animal characteristics while also suggesting distinct identities, especially with the cows’ outfits. Courtesy of expert choreographer Cindy Flach, the tap sequences provide energy and flair. My tap-dance-loving daughter was star struck by the spiffy tap number that enlivens the title song. Music Director Lindley guides adept singers through the enjoyable score, while stage manager Crystal Aldamuy and sound/light technician Jim Litzinger ensure that top-notch quality emerges in every aspect of Click, Clack, Moo with gratifying attention to detail.
My kindergarten child was overjoyed to see one of his all-time favorite books come to life on stage. “Oh, wow! That was great! Hooray!” he cheered while clapping vigorously. Hooray, indeed. Hooray for this extraordinary cast and crew, hooray for a community that supports local theatre for families and schools, and hooray for a brilliant launch to Season 11 for Columbia Children’s Theatre.
Click, Clack, Moo will be performed on Saturday, September 26 at 10:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. as well as Sunday, September 27 at 3:00 p.m. (There will also be an adults-only “Late Night Date Night” version of the show presented at 8:00 pm on Friday, September 25). For more information, call (803) 691-4548 or visit www.columbiachildrenstheatre.com.