Here's what Liberty Elementary schoolchildren liked best at a Thursday preview of “George and Martha: Tons of Fun,” the new musical that opened Friday at the Rose:
They laughed at the physical comedy, like when Martha did the splits or when George's balloons flew away, or when George sprayed a water hose at Martha.
They got a big kick out of the show's many sound effects provided by the cast, like the slide whistle and the little xylophone.
They thought the lyrics to some of the songs were funny, such as when Martha kept dishing up “Split Pea Soup” and George kept finding places to get rid of it because he didn't like it and it looked like “boogers.”
Here's what I liked best:
• Jonathan Ortloff's recorded concert of old-fashioned organ tunes before the show started was a treat, even if the volume was cranked just a tad too high. The lighthearted, rolicking music had everybody in a good mood, bobbing heads and tapping feet as they took their seats.
• The live ukulele tunes played by George (Kevin Ehrhart), such as “Autumn,” were soft and nostalgic and a treat for the ears, and they fit the vaudeville spirit of this musical based on James Marshall's children's books.
• And the spirit of this gentle piece, about how friends might feud but in the end should learn to forgive each other, is a message that's good for all ages to hear.
The point is that there should be something here for everybody to appreciate, including Christopher DePriest's brightly colored, animation-style scenery and Sue Gillespie Booton's amusing dance moves for the cast of five.
Sherri Geerdes' costumes barely suggest the animal characters, with the exception of Dog (Dan Chevalier), and that's just fine, since the script makes clear that Lauren Krupski-Carlson, in Bo-Peep pink, is playing a pig, and Andy Saladino, in green frock coat and top hat, is a crocodile.
Ehrhart, as George, and Walter Shatley, as Martha (yes, a man played Martha), are in mostly gray with tiny ears atop their heads, signals that they are hippo best friends.
Except when they are feuding, like when Martha ruins George's painting, or George starts a secret club Martha can't join (at first) or Martha criticizes George at band practice.
But in the end they miss each other and agree that “friends can tell each other the truth” and learn to get along.
The show works best for kids whose ages are in single digits.
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