‘Schoolhouse Rock’ punctuates WWU summer stock season

Western Washington University’s department of theater presents “Schoolhouse Rock: Live” Aug. 27-30 at Old Main Theatre.
Western Washington University’s department of theater presents “Schoolhouse Rock: Live” Aug. 27-30 at Old Main Theatre. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Deb Currier, an associate professor of theater arts who has been teaching at Western Washington University since 2001, claims she can still recite the preamble to the U.S. Constitution “because of those wonderful, singable song cartoons that played on Saturday mornings in the ’70s and ’80s.”

She’s referring, of course, to “Schoolhouse Rock.”

Currier is directing “Schoolhouse Rock Live!,” the last in the Western Summer Theatre summer stock season, playing Aug. 27-30 at Old Main Theatre.

Filled with favorite songs like “Conjunction Junction,” “Verb!” and “I’m Just A Bill,” it’s a perfect show for family summer, she says. It’s high-energy, visually creative, nostalgic (for some of us, Currier admits), engagingly educational — and the cast invites everyone to sing along.

The storyline follows Tom, a new teacher on the first day of school, as five characters representing facets of his personality jump out of his TV set and show him how to win his students over with imagination and music, to remind him that learning can be amazing fun and, as Schoolhouse Rocky says, “Knowledge is power!”

Currier says there’s a talented cast and crew of WWU students who bring the characters to life on stage.

One is Alyssa Balogh, an junior-to-be at WWU majoring in acting and directing. She was recently in “Legally Blonde” at WWU in December, and just finished the run of “Urinetown.”

Her character is Dina, who is a lot like her, Balogh says.

“She’s grounded and realistic and looks after everyone else, which is how I like to think I am,” she says. “She’s a lot of fun to play because she has the best song, in my opinion, ‘Sufferin’ Till Suffrage,’ which is this sort of ‘Dreamgirl’-eqse girl-group number that is so fun.”

Garrett Lander, who will be a senior this year, jokes that he, too, is a lot like the character he plays, Joe, Tom’s cool, laid-back side.

“I have to say I was definitely type-cast, because I’m super-cool,” he says.

His favorite song in the show is “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly,” because the dance in it is a lot of fun.

“We have this whole barbershop thing going on, and it’s pretty sweet,” he says.

Lander says anyone who grew up watching “Schoolhouse Rock” will “immediately be sent to nostalgia-ville,” while anyone who didn’t watch the show will get caught up in the catchiness of the songs.

Balogh says kids will like how interactive the show is, and parents and grandparents will know the cartoons and be able to sing along.

“They will probably get the most kick out of how close we are to the actual cartoons,” she says. “Our props and set is pretty spot-on to how the cartoons looked, and I think they will really enjoy that.”

“Schoolhouse Rock: Live”

When: Curtain at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 27-28, and 2 p.m. Aug. 29-30.

Where: Western Washington University’s Old Main Theatre.

Cost: $15 general, $11 students.

Details: 360-650-6146, tickets.wwu.edu.