Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Phoenix

Go, Dog, Go!
Review by Gil Benbrook | Season Schedule

Also see Gil's reviews of South Pacific, The Bodyguard and Mercury

Jon Gentry, Michael Thompson, Caitlin Dhuse,
Adam Sowards, and Brynn Lewallen

Photo by Tim Trumbule
The great thing about Childsplay is that they not only offer a season of over a half dozen shows aimed at children of various ages, but they also feature plays with serious themes as well as others that are mainly just for fun. Their production of Go, Dog, Go! may not have an in-depth plot or much character development, and the life lessons the show imparts are mainly geared toward younger children and focus on such things as different colors and that when it's nighttime you should be sleeping, but with an energetic cast and upbeat direction it amounts to a fun and infectious theatrical treat.

There isn't much of a plot, as the story simply focuses on a group of dogs as they go about their everyday routine, which mainly includes the standard canine traits of playing, partying and sleeping. These dogs are also capable of such human abilities as riding scooters and driving cars, which only adds to the comical aspect of the piece. Based on P.D. Eastman's 1961 picture book, the 2003 adaptation by Allison Gregory and Steven Dietz uses the same simple words Eastman used in his book, along with a zippy score from Michael Koerner and an abundance of good physical comedy under Andrés Alcalá's spotless direction, to deliver an hour of humor and joy.

Eastman was a protégé of Theodor Geisel and, while Go, Dog, Go! doesn't focus on the zany characters and lands that Geisel's Dr. Seuss books did, it does include identifiable characters and situations that allow children to explore simple human qualities like making friends, sharing, and the sense of surprise and adventure.

Jon Gentry leads a cast of talented actors including Caitlin Dhuse, Brynn Lewallen, Jennie Rhiner, Adam Sowards and Michael Thompson. While it's mainly an ensemble piece with only a few words spoken, Gentry's gifted comic abilities, fun double-takes, and facial expressions add an extra layer of exuberance to his many moments. The rest of the cast create unique characters, such as the rambunctious pup (Thompson), the dog who sleeps through just about everything (Sowards), and the canine who keeps showing up in larger and larger hats (Rhiner) in hopes that Gentry's MC Dog will finally like what she's wearing.

Andrés Alcalá's direction is as playful as the pups, with Caroline Wagner's upbeat and varied choreography adding to the show's jubilant nature. Aaron Jackson's vibrant and cartoony scenic designs play off the illustrations in the book and Kish Finnegan's costumes add pops of color that help identity each dog. Rob Witmer's sound design includes a nonstop stream of fun sound effects and his music direction creates some lovely sounds from the cast who excel at singing Michael Koerner's score with a series of vocal acoustics including plenty of barks and howls.

There may not be much of a plot in Go, Dog, Go!, but Childsplay's production is bright and catchy and amounts to an upbeat, fun and funny time. While the show is geared toward younger audience members, it truly is a show that will put a big smile on the faces of people of all ages. Even this middle-aged theatre critic was grinning throughout.

Go, Dog, Go! at Childsplay runs through December 23rd, 2017, at the Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe, Arizona, with performances on Saturdays at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m. Tickets are on sale at or at the Tempe Center for the Arts Box Office (480) 350-2822 (ext. 0)

Adapted by Allison Gregory and Steven Dietz from the book "Go, Dog, Go!" by P.D. Eastman
Music and Lyrics by Michael Koerner
Directed by Andrés Alcalá
Choreography: Caroline Wagner
Music Director/Sound Design: Rob Witmer
Scenic Design: Aaron Jackson
Costume Design: Kish Finnegan
Lighting Design: Cody Soper

MC Dog: Jon Gentry
Yellow Dog: Caitlin Dhuse
Green Dog: Brynn Lewallen
Hattie: Jennie Rhiner
Blue Dog: Adam Sowards
Red Dog: Michael Thompson

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