Any 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 Musical, adapted 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.
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!