Laura Lee Caudill (Blue Dog) and Basil Harris (Yellow Dog) in Go, Dog. Go! Credit: Elise Bakketun
Dogs zoom around the stage, filling the theater with joyful energy. "Go, Dog. Go!" is a play about playing. If you’ve never been to a Seattle Children’s Theatre production, this is a good one to start with. There’s nothing remotely scary for little kids, just infectious fun and eye-catching primary colors.
P.D. Eastman’s 1961 book was adapted for the stage by a Seattle couple, playwrights Allison Gregory and Steven Dietz. They read the book with their young daughter while writing the play. My copy of "Go, Dog. Go!" is, um, dog-eared with love. It was the first book my now-6-year-old read by himself, and a current favorite for my 2-year-old. I’ve read it so many times I can chant the text from memory: “Dog. Big dog, little dog… black and white dogs.”
What little dialogue there is in the play is mostly the words from the book. But the play’s fun song and dance numbers dress up the simple text. I loved the jazzy renditions of “The yellow sun is up” and “Do you like my hat?”
For kids who adore the story, they’ll be happy that the actual book makes an appearance several times in the play. The play’s props will look familiar too. For the scenes that are tricky to stage — a roller coaster, a ferris wheel, a big tree — the production uses model-sized cutouts of the book’s illustrations.
A musician dog (Robertson Witmer) playing an accordion provides the play’s live soundtrack. He’s accompanied by giggles from the audience, which started with the first scene and never really let up.
The book "Go, Dog. Go!" is short, and the play re-imagines single pages into entire scenes. “Work, dogs, work!” becomes a hilarious mini-story about a rogue wiggly jackhammer. “Three dogs at a party on a boat at night” becomes an impressive a cappella “bow wow” number.
Other scenes didn’t score as highly with the audience. The blue dog wakes up alone and searches for her friends. My 6-year-old critic said, “This is too long.” In another scene, two pups disagree over where to put their ladders. “When are they going to talk? They’re just moving ladders around,” I overheard another kid say.
Of the seven canine characters, my favorite was easily the yellow one (played by Basil Harris). He had both kids and adults rolling when he pantomimed a doggie paddle, and his goofy expressions stole more than one scene. At the final party, Harris takes up the percussions and the dogs all jam together.
If you think you wear a lot of hats as a parent, you’ll be exhausted by all the hats the dogs wear: sleeping hats, driving hats, hard hats, baseball hats and party hats. The best costumes come out for the car-driving scene, when the dogs motor around in mini foam-core cars, their scarves billowing behind them.
This is SCT’s third time staging "Go, Dog. Go!" The show is performed in SCT’s smaller venue, the Eve Alvord Theatre. Its long, cushioned benches are easier for small kids than folding theater seats, and there’s a quiet room in the back if your little ones need a break. Tip: There are no assigned seats, so get in early to snag a spot in the front for the best view. (You’ll also have a better chance of catching a foul ball. The lights in the room go on while the dogs play baseball, and the audience gets to play along.)
My one quibble with the play is that it ran long: 1 hour and 40 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission. As everyone was leaving the theater, a little boy stumbled into us. “He’s so tired,” his mom said. For a show aimed at preschoolers, its duration overshoots the attention span of most kids of this age. Still, we blew right through naptime for the afternoon show we saw and my 2-year-old sat transfixed for the entire performance.
Age recommendation: Like the book, this show is best for the preschool set. The scenes sprinkle in lots of little kid humor, like dancing on bubble wrap and playing with flashlights under a blanket.
If you go...
When: "Go, Dog. Go!" plays Thursday–Sunday, through Nov. 26
Where: Seattle Children's Theatre at Seattle Center, 201 Thomas St., Seattle
Cost: Tickets are $22–$39 (go on a Thursday for the $22 rate). Buy tickets online, or pay in cash at the box office to avoid the $4 processing fee. Rush tickets are available for $18 an hour before the show. Check the website for periodic accessible performances.
Parking: Try street parking or one of the surface lots in the neighborhood.
Tips: Download the Active Audience Guide for kids' activities connected to the play. Read about real working dogs, make your own party hat and learn about the behind-the-scenes work. Also, if you have a copy of the book, bring it along and the actors are generous about signing autographs after the show.
Bonus read for parents: "An Open Letter to the Female Hat-Wearing Dog"