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LA Theater Review

Schoolhouse Rock Live!

It's gratifying to see procrastination finally given its due. Rather than prepare for his first day of class, neophyte teacher Tom (Eduardo Enrikez) retreats into video games, and the characters from within leap to his aid in a fevered dream. Don't worry: This was the period of Pac-Man, not Call of Duty, so the characters are benign. The ensemble (Chad Borden, Tameka Dawn, Antoine Reynaldo Diel, Elaine Loh, and Susan Rudick) inspires Tom with guidance from the 1970s and '80s ABC series of education animated shorts, Schoolhouse Rock!, which combined undeniably catchy tunes with a healthy dash of education.

The results are mixed. The book by Scott Ferguson, George Keating, and Kyle Hall updates such things as Pluto's demotion from planet to, well, whatever it is now, yet presents "Elbow Room," a perky little ditty about manifest destiny, as a fun felt-cutout presentation in which the colonial pressure to expand westward apparently had no ill effects whatsoever. "Just a Bill," the charming classic following the passage of a measure through Congress on the way to becoming a law, seems hopelessly idealistic without a backup chorus of lobbyists. We're into much safer territory when we get to math. Perhaps the most delightful number-based song is the hauntingly melancholy "Figure Eight," which is given whimsy and wonder by Rudick and employs a very nice music-box set piece by Keith Mitchell. The highly interactive tribute to the wonders of the number five is perhaps one of Enrikez's finer moments, as he's far more interesting in song-and-dance mode than he is as nebbish teacher.

Jim Hickcox is responsible for the sketchy sound design, in which far too many lyrics are lost, and the charmingly clunky video design, in which children from the audience are invited on stage to leap into a video realization of the "Great American Melting Pot." Save for the occasional lengthy transition, Mark Savage's direction has the requisite zip. The cast is uniformly peppy, but Borden is in another, equally fun show, in which runway attitude rules, and choreographer Brian Paul Mendoza has conspired to make us privy to a bit more Fosse than we might have expected in a showcase for numbers and parts of speech. Not that "slink" isn't a perfectly lovely verb.

Presented by and at the Greenway Court Theatre,

544 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A.

Sat. 4 p.m., Sun. 4 & 7 p.m. (Dark Dec. 29-30.) Dec. 1-Feb. 24.

(323) 655-7679, ext. 100.

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