Share This Post

Children / Events

Still fun, still educational, “Schoolhouse” children’s musical still rocks

You can take the kid out of the schoolhouse, but can you ever really take the “Schoolhouse Rock” out of the kid?

No. Exclamation point.

That notion was reinforced last week when the U.S. Department of Education announced that, for the next year, callers on hold will hear “Conjunction Junction” instead of generic elevator music.

I hadn’t heard that ditty in decades, but after a lifetime of hooking up words and phrases and clauses for a living, it came back to me like a flash flood of interjections while watching the Arvada Center’s time-traveling, high-energy children’s musical, “Schoolhouse Rock Live,” which runs for one more week.

The irony: It’s the targeted children in this audience who are likely hearing all these lyrical tips about nouns and tenses and pronouns for the first time. It’s their teachers and parents, who have come here out of obligation, who are as familiar with it as the smell of Elmer’s Glue. And they’re bopping along to the beat with shameless enthusiasm.

This is all thanks to the popular Saturday-morning series of educational cartoons created by George Newall and Tom Yohe, which started airing in 1973. For 26 years, they taught us history, grammar, math, science and politics through clever tunes like “Just a Bill” and “Do the Circulation.”

This irresistible stage adaptation, cobbled by a team of 10 writers including Lynn Ahrens (“Ragtime,” “Seussical”), takes place entirely in the bedroom of a young teacher who’s nervous about his first day in a classroom.

It’s not that he’s unprepared. He’s worried about earning his students’ engagement, which will require imagination, enthusiasm and music. Out pop five adrenaline-infused, pajama-clad actors who represent the ideas and thoughts his mind creates.

This teacher with the oh-so-many enthusiastic imaginary friends is played by Seth Caikowski. And after his winning turn as the ugly duckling in last year’s “Honk,” let it be said that no one does dork like Caikowski does dork. And the kids love him for it.

In this quick, colorful musical, each castmate helps him plan lessons covering the Constitution, math, inventions, anatomy, social studies and even women’s rights (“If we were all created equal, well that’s us, too!”).

As you might expect, the message here is that learning can be fun. I suspect, though, it will benefit these youngsters just as much to know that teachers care enough to get nervous, too.

So that’s it. If you’ve encountered no grammatical errors to this point, that’s due in no small part to “Schoolhouse Rock.”

“Schoolhouse Rock Live”

Children’s musical. Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd. Directed by Kitty Skillman Hilsabeck. Starring Seth Caikowski, Daniel Langhoff, Ashlie-Amber Harris, Amanda Earls, Matt LaFontaine and Julia Perrotta. Through May 15. 70 minutes. 10 a.m. and noon Wednesdays-Fridays, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturdays. $8-$10. 720-898-7200 or

-John Moore: 303-954-1056 or [email protected]

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

Share This Post