review by Crystal Wood
Ducks. When it comes to children’s picture books, they can be mischief makers and hijinks instigators. Oh sure, they’re cute and sweet in some literary works – but in many others, they move the story along by getting themselves in sticky situations or pushing the proverbial bar. Such is the case with Duck in the books written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin: Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type, Giggle, Giggle, Quack, and Duck for President.
The Oregon Children’s Theater is currently performing the ever so timely Duck for President. And as you can imagine, a children’s book takes a lot of expanding to transform into a play. Whereas Duck in the books is astute, as well as looking for a good time, the play’s Duck is all about the good time and it’s Pig who is campaign manager and the brain behind the candidate. Of course, Cow, Hen, and Farmer Brown are part of the shenanigans too.
Performance wise, all cast members do a swell job, though Farmer Brown, Cow and Hen are my family’s personal favorites. We all liked that the farmer isn’t portrayed as a harrumphing fuddy-duddy but warmly and comically by Joshua Stenseth. Cow and Hen are entertaining and engaging for kids and grownups. Cause let’s face it, the election process can be funny and fun, even as friends disagree on the issues.
Duck for President is one of those plays that will appeal to a variety of age groups. Little kids just enjoy the silliness of adults pretending to be farm animals and the big red barn on the set is a known icon to the kindergarten set. There is not one frightening moment and the costumes are simple and give the illusion of the animals without anyone having to wear a snout or udder. For slightly older kids, they’re hearing an awful lot of talk these days about ballots, voting, debates, speeches, campaign commercials, and so on. The play helps to put these terms and ideas into simple definitions and the only political agenda is that the animals would like not to do any farm work.
Getting to the lobby with plenty of time before the show gives each child attending a chance to cast their ballot and vote for their candidate of choice. Originally we thought we’d be voting for Duck or Farmer Brown. Each child is given a token and asked to vote with it by placing it in the slot below the picture of the current presidential candidates. Towards the end of the show, the “winner” is announced. To prepare for the show even further in advance, visit duckforpresident.org. There’s a campaign commercial, what the people are saying about duck’s bid for presidency, and other opportunities for children and parents to see where Duck waddles on the issues.
The cast is available for signing programs and meeting with the kids after the show. Expect a line and for it to be a rush to the table where the actors sit. And on a side note, booster chairs are available at the coat check for $1 and for little ones, they’re worth all 100 pennies.
PDX Kids Calendar was given tickets to attend the performance to review – but was in no way paid for the views expressed in this review.
posted by Tabitha Rhodes