Giggle, Giggle, Quack
A barnyard chorus of mayhem overtakes a Dutch country farmhouse in the lighthearted Giggle, Giggle, Quack. The stage’s resemblance to a field of brightly colored tulips and the production’s amusing mischief recapture Doreen Cronin’s familiar picture book. Using this adaptation by James E. Grote and George Howe, First Stage Children’s Theater opens their First Step Series, which they present at the intimate Main Stage Hall inside the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center.
Although the 50-minute musical attracts a pre-school audience, this charming story provides plenty of word play for adults to appreciate through the intelligent dialogue and lyrics. To be enjoyed on several levels, the performance succeeds in sustaining the attention of all ages in the audience.
Add to the production Kristina Van Slyke’s ingeniously conceived costumes, complete with webbed slippers for feet, together with Karl Miller’s playful choreography that recalls various musical genres, and the children watch entranced. Several clever lighting and stage effects also create an element of surprise that the audience asks about in the talkback following the performance.
A combination of casts acted on Sunday morning, with Alison Kennedy performing “Duck” and Rachel Schmeling playing “Hen,” both students at the First Stage Academy. The storytelling of Beth Mulkerron’s “Pig” and Karen Estrada’s quirky “Cow” round out the ensemble to comprise a comic yet masterful menagerie overseen by the dual role of Farmer Brown and Brother Bob, capably portrayed by Rick Pendzich.
Sitting on carpet mats or risers close to the performance, these tiny tots barely uttered a sound the entire hour while they experienced the joy of theater, many for the first time. In Giggle, Giggle Quack the concept of introducing young children to the joy and thrill of live theater instead of video screens attains a high standard. The future of all performing arts depends on these “first steps” that Milwaukee’s First Stage envisions and delivers with remarkable skill. Whether one giggles with a quack, an oink, or a cluck, this performance produces a moovelous hour of make-believe.
First Stage Children’s Theater presents Giggle, Giggle, Quack at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, 325 East Walnut, through October 19. 414-273-7206 or www.firststage.org