When one first enters the auditorium at Tallahassee Community College, there appears to be a jungle gym of some sort on the stage. A closer look reveals an elementary classroom, a trip down memory lane.
The popular cartoon TV show that made its debut in 1973, “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” introduces the character Tom. His self-conscious recollection of everything he has learned while in the education system is made into childlike characters and prepares him for his first day as a second-grade teacher.
The bright and vivacious set was made for the many young children in attendance.
When the music began, and the characters onstage began to interact with the audience, it was only a matter of time before the youngsters were jumping out of their seats to dance, sing along and try to jump onstage to join the fun.
The “live” part came in with the live band that played every song in the musical.
The playbill informed the audience of only having two keyboardists, a bass player and a drum player in the back of the stage to accompany the production.
The stamina in the actors was absolutely exhilarating as well, going right into song after song. There was very little scripted dialogue but many solos and dance numbers to keep the show rolling at a decent pace.
Ilesha Robertson, a second-year theater performance student from Florida A&M in attendance, agreed on the entrancing atmosphere.
“My girl Alexis and my boy Jamel went ahead and kept the energy up the whole time and they all were really good. You could tell they had experience in acting and they had me screaming along with them, ” said Robertson.
Another interesting aspect was the use of a projection screen that played the cartoons on the giant TV in the set. These cartoons were right in sync with the scenes that were unfolding onstage.
This could not have happened without the right amount of rehearsal and precision.
Jamel Booth, a graduating theatre performance and facilities management student at Florida A&M, played the role of the soloist that is George.
“The process was long. It was late January to early February when we started. Monday through Friday, three hours a night. We, as leads, didn’t have any time off but it was a fun process. It was great working with the new director, M. Derek Nieves, where we could see his vision come to life. Songs we used to hear as children and seeing us do it live is just like- wow, crazy,” said Booth.
The characters showed the real spirit of being a child and made a true home out of the stage and set.
Alexis Johnson, a second-year broadcast journalism student with a minor in theatre performance at Florida A&M, gives a glimpse at what made the show an overall success.
“My biggest fear was coming from FAMU and not knowing anyone at TCC. Getting here and just being in the family atmosphere, it was an amazing welcoming experience. We are all like brothers and sisters now in the cast,” said Johnson.
“Schoolhouse Rock Live!” ran April 5-14 in the Turner Auditorium at Tallahassee Community College.
For more information on their next season, visit www.tcc.fl.edu or www.tallahasseearts.org.