“Rock the Presidents” – Childsplay

This review aired on KBAQ October 24, 2016

Childsplay, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

This is the third time Childsplay has presented its original creative musical “Rock the Presidents” that cleverly teaches while engagingly entertaining young audiences about the 43 men who have led this country in good and bad times.

The first lesson hinges on the number of people who have served as our 44 presidents.  It is often forgotten that Grover Cleveland served twice as the 22nd and the 24th leader because he lost his initial reelection bid but he ran and won again four years later.

The sprightly musical uses very contemporary Sarah Roberts rock catchy tunes and craftily told history interestingly framed by playwright Dwayne Hartford that uses age-appropriate swinging songs and undulating rhetoric to explain each Presidents’ strengths and weaknesses.  Unlike pedantically boring historical texts used in schools that blandly relate history chronologically, the wildly imaginative show uses vivid and colorful projections to depict each presidents portrait and a bit of that periods historic events.  The visual images get richer the closer the show comes to Barack Obama’s presidency because available historic depictions grow more artistically telling.

As much American history as young audiences and their adult chaperones know, lots of interesting details are learned at “Rock the Presidents.”  Revealing these fascinating tidbits in simple words doesn’t do the clever nuances the show finds and is exploited in Anthony Runfola’s wildly playful and explosive staging.

Words also can’t convey the impeccable three-person cast’s explosive verve as they move rapidly through the spirited American history lesson with energetic panache that engulfs the audience.  The show clocks in at a perfect hour and a half with intermission that keeps the audience fully attentive.

The show touches brilliantly on our country’s splendid diversity that is a critical issue as our upcoming Presidential election nears.  “Rock the Presidents” reminds audiences how diverse our country’s collective leadership has been.

“Rock the Presidents” earns five stars out of five and continues through November 13 at the Tempe Center for the Arts while an alternate troupe tours the wonderfully entertaining but opulently educational show throughout the western United States.  To order tickets, call the Tempe Center for the Arts box office at 480-350-2822 ext. 2 or order tickets online at www.childsplayaz.org.

Grade: A