Theater review: NCT’s ‘Go Dog Go’ Combines Learning and Laughter

Go-Dog-Go-NCTGo, Dog. Go! has Nashville Children’s Theatre audience members of all ages giggling and shouting with excitement from the moment the performance begins. Though aimed at the toddler and elementary school crowd, the show directed by Peter Vann is full of singing, dancing, comedy and opportunities for participation from all in the audience: No one gets bored for even a moment. It also offers learning opportunities about colors, sizes, and opposites for youngsters, making Go, Dog. Go! the perfect way to spend an hour with the whole family.

NCT, now in its 82nd year, is of course no stranger to what keeps children engaged and smiling. Everything about the production, from silly pratfalls and gags onstage to the many toys, games, and activities located in the lobby, is sure to delight kids while keeping mom and dad satisfied. (And – for those who haven’t been to NCT since its renovation a few years back – there’s even have a comfort room in the back of the theater available for those few children who aren’t enjoying the experience as much; from there adults and children can control sound and light levels while viewing the play without disturbing others.)

Go, Dog. Go! is based on the 1961 P.D. Eastman book of the same name. It features the adventures of seven dogs as they go about their daily activities and culminates in a “Big Dog Party.” The dogs – recognizable by their floppy ears – are dressed in different colors or patterns (like Green Dog or Spotted Dog) with their names spelled out in big letters on their backs. MC Dog, played by Josh Bernaski, starts things off by making his way through the audience before taking his seat on stage; he keeps the show moving by acting as the emcee while telling the other dogs and audience members what to do. The entire cast is made up of very talented singers, dancers, and jokesters; Music Dog, played by Ben Van Diepen, is an accomplished musician, accompanying the entire show single-handedly and playing a wide variety of instruments including piano, flute and even the accordion.

The show, adapted by Allison Gregory and Steven Dietz, stays true to the original story by only using dialogue that appears in the book itself. That story is however taken to the next level using a large interactive screen as a backdrop which helps set the scene and often displays original illustrations.

It also incorporates many catchy, yet simple songs that encourage kids to sing along. That includes a number written by Michael Koerner called “Do You Like My Hat?” which is the only time the show strays away from the book’s narrative. In addition, the cast members often make their way into the audience to interact with young audience members, even teaching them how to do the wave and playing baseball with them.

Go, Dog. Go! is full of excitement and laughter for all ages. It features talented performers, lots of learning opportunities, and inspiration for creativity. Even those that haven’t read this must-read story should enjoy every second of NCT’s innovative adaptation.

Go, Dog. Go! continues through May 19 at Nashville Children’s Theatre (25 Middleton St.) Nashville Children’s Theatre is located at 25 Middleton St. Public performances include Saturdays at 11 a.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. (There will be no show on Sunday, April 14.) For tickets call (615) 252-4675 or visit www.nashvillect.org.

*Photo/art by Colin Peterson of Josh Bernaski as MC Dog courtesy Nashville Children’s Theatre.

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About Katie Mills

Katie Mills is from originally from Palm Springs, Calif., and is currently a senior at Vanderbilt University working towards her bachelor’s degree in English and History. In addition to ArtsNash, she also is the publisher and layout editor of the Vanderbilt Torch, a conservative-oriented magazine created by and for Vanderbilt students. She hopes to remain in Nashville following her graduation this May.