BUSYTOWNIIAny children’s book writer or illustrator would think they’d gone to Heaven if their work was brought to life in a musical. That’s why Richard Scarry is probably smiling right now. His awesome picture books have  achieved that prestigious honor with Busytown The Musicaladapted by playwright Kevin Kling and composer Michael Koerner.

Yesterday, my daughter, three granddaughters, and I attended this lively, pickle-car, chug-a-wug-a-choo-choo show at the Children’s Theater in Minneapolis.  I’ll be honest. I enjoyed it as much as anyone. My cheeks still hurt from ginning.
The caliber of acting, singing, and performing far exceeded my expectations. The show was almost over before I realized only six actors played the bazillion busy parts. The most phenomenal multitasker, however, was the one-woman organist/flutist/kazooist/percussionist/every-instrumentalist who played the musical accompaniment. (Sorry, I don’t know her name.)

Reed Sigmund, the  actor who played Huckle the Cat (and a back-up singing nurse and various other characters) had the  voice and endearing presence of Chris Farley. I kept hoping he would break into lame ninja moves or warn the kids about living in a van down by the river.

Meghan Kreidler played a brassy mail carrier so well, she reminded me of Rosie O’Donnell in A League of Her Own. And she had no problem seamlessly transitioning into a lovesick nurse, Grocer Cat, a train car, or a busy commuter.

Dean Holt had the perfect voice and feathered hat-wearing head for heart-throb Lowly Worm.

I’d mention all the cast members and behind-the-scenes stars, but you need to  experience the colorful set, funny costumes, energetic choreography and happy audience yourself. Busytown the Musical is playing until October 26, so get your tickets now.

CHILDRENSTHEATERCheck out other Children’s Theater Company productions. We’re bringing in the holiday spirit with The Grinch Stole Christmas. (I can’t wait to meet Cindy Lou Who. Can you?)

And, remember, there’s no better way to get your children’s book creations in shape for future musicals than the 2014 MN Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Annual Conference. It’s not too late to register!

Meaty Girl

The cheery chiropractor chattered ceaselessly while kneading the muscles by my spine.  He rarely demanded a reply, so I serenely streamed in and out of consciousness — until I heard the words: “meaty girl.”

My head shot up like he’d dropped a popsicle on a backside crevice.  He gently pushed my head back into the breathing hole in the table. “My, but you got tense all of a sudden.  Relax.”

Too late.  There would be no more relaxing.  I rattled my brain to recall how he used the words in his sentence:

  • “You don’t sweat bad for a meaty girl.” ?
  • “Meaty girl, remind me to put ham and Pillsbury dough on my grocery list.” ?
  • “I need a meaty girl like you on my bowling/mud wrestling team.” ?

Here’s the problem: I’m the opposite of an anorexic.  Instead of being a skinny girl who thinks she’s meaty.  I’m a meaty girl who thinks I’m skinny.  No, I don’t have bigorexia, where I obsess about being small.  Instead, I buy sweaters that fit me twenty pounds ago; then when I see myself on a video, I say, “Hey, that meaty girl has a pink sweater just like mine!”

It’s a denial thing.

My illusion could be caused by the full length mirror in our bedroom.  It’s tipped back so I look two feet taller.  Also, whenever I sit, I strategically fold my arms or a place a child on my lap, to hide the blubber cascading over the waistband of my pants.

I try to work out three and a half minutes every day, but my husband rarely sees the evidence.  One day, between bites of Doritos, he said, “I bet you could run all of the way to the mailbox and back.”

I smiled, thinking, “You condescending so-and-so.  You must think I’m an out-of-shape meaty girl.”

So, the next day I ran to the mailbox.  I only walked part of the way back.  Then I paced around in the garage awhile to get my breathing under control.

I’m going to blame this extra padding on eleven months of Minnesota winter, then do what I do every year during my 30 days of get-in-shape weather.  For one whole Saturday morning I’ll morph into a Flashdance maniac, (the Chris Farley version), exercising every muscle known to womankind.

The remainder of the month, I’ll baby my shocked body parts and announce, “I’d lift weights, but they’re so heavy.”

Mother’s Day weekend brings the city-wide garage sales. My mission: Find a $2.50 undersized sweater — purple this time — for the all-beef, especially saucy,  girl with the cellulite buns — you know — the meaty girl in the video.