‘Go, Dog. Go!’ at NextStop Theatre Company by Julia l. Exline

THREE AND A HALF STARS
NextStop FAMILY Presents Go, Dog. Go!, a stage adaptation by Allison Gregory and Stephen Dietz, based on the beloved children’s book by P.D. Eastman and directed by Ray Ficca. Though a full-fledged adult, I was intrigued for this production, as like many of my peers, Go, Dog. Go! was a childhood favorite of mine.

The cast of GO, DOG. GO!: Steven Soto, Maggie Erwin, Sherry Berg, Katie Nigsch Fairfax, Ashley Buster, and Mikey Cafarelli. Photo courtesy of  Nextstop Theatre Company.

The cast of GO, DOG. GO!: Steven Soto, Maggie Erwin, Sherry Berg, Katie Nigsch Fairfax, Ashley Buster, and Mikey Cafarelli. Photo courtesy of NextStop Theatre Company.

Scenic Designer Ian Brown and Painters Cathy Rieder and Sabrina Begley create a simple but colorful set, with a bright backdrop made up of solid and spotted colors, and an array of painted boxes that are used as a variety of props throughout the show. Painted cut-out trees are identical to those illustrated in the book. Costume Designer Erin Nugent used the character’s outfits to compliment the set, as all dogs wear a set of overalls and floppy ears, ranging from solid colors to checkers and stripes.Music Director Elisa Rosman has cheery music run throughout the production, as there is far more action than dialogue. The actors play off the rhythms of the music nicely, with effects thrown in such as drills, crashes, and car engines by Sound Designer Brian Christensen. The theatre itself was very kid-friendly, as each child was given an activity sheet and crayons to help pass the time while waiting for the show to begin, and the staff members walked along the audience talking and joking with them all.

There really isn’t a clear-cut plot to follow, but what we have is a troupe of cheery dogs who go about their day, comprised of Sherry Berg (Yellow Dog), Ashley Buster (Red Dog), Mikey Cafarelli (Green Dog), Katie Nigsch-Fairfax ( Blue Dog), and Maggie Erwin (Hattie). This includes scenes like “Dogs at Work” (a construction site), “Dogs at Play” (a rowdy baseball game), and “Dogs in Cars.” Basic developmental lessons like colors, sizes, and direction are the heart of this production, and it is the audience interaction that really gives this production its legs.

Maggie Erwin, Sherry Berg, Mikey Cafarelli, Katie Nigsch Fairfax, Ashley Buster, Steven Soto, and Ray Ficca (Center). Photo courtesy of Nextstop Theatre Company.

Maggie Erwin, Sherry Berg, Mikey Cafarelli, Katie Nigsch Fairfax, Ashley Buster, Steven Soto, and Ray Ficca (Center). Photo courtesy of Nextstop Theatre Company.

The audience is asked questions like, “Is the green dog down or up?” and in a particularly fun scene, a baseball comically grows in size with every pitch…until it becomes the size of a beach ball and is playfully bounced throughout the thrilled audience. One thing I did find a bit awkward was when the troupe decided to march their way throughout the narrow audience rows, causing the adults to begrudgingly get on their feet to make room for them to pass through the small space.

The actors were highly enthusiastic and great with the kids. The stage version followed the book closely, including cute moments when Hattie appeared onstage several times in elaborate hats, each time asking Green Dog if he liked them. It seems Green Dog is quite the fashion snob and keeps rejecting her choices…will Hattie find a design that wins him over?

Need an afternoon distraction for your little one? Go Dog. Go! could be just the ticket!

Running Time: 30 minutes, without an intermission.

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Go Dog. Go! plays through November 10th, 2013 at NextStop Theatre Company–  269 Sunset Park Drive, in Herndon, VA. For tickets, call (703) 481-5930, or order them online.

 

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