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Entertainment & Lifestyle

‘Schoolhouse Rock’ interjects fun on Civic stage

11/15/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Children can learn the difference between nouns and adjectives and what it takes for a bill to become a law in the “Schoolhouse Rock Live! Jr.” show at the Akron Civic Theatre Nov. 18.

The entertaining yet educational show is coming back after a successful year last year in which students from the Firestone Theatre program at Firestone High School presented it on the Civic stage.

The show has become something of a tradition for the students in Firestone Theatre, said Brandon Kline, a Firestone junior from Copley who is performing in the show for the second time and creating the choreography.

“We commonly take it around to schools, but last year we started doing it at the Civic,” he said. “The kids really thought it was fun. Choreographically, there’s a lot of fun stuff, and kids really relate to it.”

The 12-person cast will perform songs popularized by the Saturday morning mini-cartoons that were aired on ABC starting in the 1970s, such as “Conjunction Junction,” “Three Is a Magic Number,” “Interjections” and “Just a Bill.”

The original songs and animation came about after an advertising executive saw that his son was able to remember song lyrics but not multiplication tables. The result was more than 41 songs over 20 years and four Emmy Awards for the effort.

In 1993, a theater in Chicago brought the songs to the stage by weaving them together with the story of a new schoolteacher, Tom, who learns how to win his students over through the use of imagination and music.

For Kline, the show is his first experience serving as a choreographer. His mother is Jill Royka, owner of Spotlight School of the Arts in Granger. He’s been dancing since he was a toddler, he said.

“The rule in my house was we both had to try it,” he said of himself and his brother. “I stuck with it. I think it’s great.”

For his choreography, Kline said he’s worked closely with director Jeremy Gilpatrick. The artistic director for the show is Firestone Theatre’s Mark Zimmerman.

“We’re trying to stick to the roots of the cartoon ‘Schoolhouse Rock,’” Kline said.

Show time for “School House Rock Live Jr.” is 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 the day of the show, and $5 for children ages 3-12 and free for children 2 and younger. Tickets are available at the Akron Civic Theatre Box Office, by calling 330-253-2488 or online at www.akron civic.com, or TicketMaster at 800-745-3000. The Civic is located at 182 S. Main St.

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