Richard Scarry’s Busytown is bustling. There’s food to grow and get to the store for people to buy. There are doctors to keep us well and postmen to deliver our mail and blacksmiths, construction workers, firemen, and more – everything we need in a town. Including a pickle car. And young Huckle Cat is soaking it all in, learning what people do for a living and how we’re all interconnected, giving young kids a great primer in how it all works.

This musical is adapted mostly from his Busytown book What Do People Do All Day?, and it recently enjoyed its San Diego Junior Theatre premiere in La Jolla under the direction of Torrie Dunlap. Torrie keeps it light and fun and moving along at a good pace, and the kids in the audience seemed engaged in the events and the anthropomorphic characters who make Busytown run.

We mostly see how the town works through the curious young Huckle Cat, with Casey Purlia Johnson making for a charismatic, eager, and happy student as she learns about possible career opportunities, how things work in town, and helps out her friends. Those friends include Alana Austin as the mute and lovable Lowly Worm (who’s “the most even if he smells like compost”) and Caroline Lezny as best friend Betsy Bear who is eagerly determined to throw a birthday party for her Grandma played by the dotingly grandma-ish Hana Berry (the party preparations leading to a valiant attempt by Huckle at baking a cake).

And then there are all the professional people Huckle learns about as the day progresses. Jenna Dern as Nurse Nelly (who has a crush on Lowly Worm) and Ryan Luster as Dr. Lion help clue us into the medical profession, with Jenna Dern also acting as Grocer Cat and being joined by Farmer Alfalfa (Natalie Fry) and others in giving us the lowdown on how food goes from the ground to our plates. Zoe Franks amuses as Able Baker Charlie and as pirate-ish Captain Salty. Sierra Ottilie-Koveman is our Firechief and tailor Stitches, Hana Berry works at the airport and as a blacksmith, while Maya Hertz and a sentimental Ryan Luster go postal. And then there’s Rachel Wayne as banana-thief chasing Sargeant Murphy/Train the Dog (prepare for some spirited audience participation).

Costume Designer Nicollette Gilman and Hair/Make-up Designer Richard May help bring out the actors’ inner animals, while Cynthia Bloodgood’s set helps take us into the storybook world that teaches younger audience members a lot about the real world in one very busy little hour.

Performs December 5 - 21, 2008

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Sargeant Murphy/Construction Worker/Train the Dog: Rachel Wayne
Grocer Cat/Nurse Nelly: Jenna Dern
Huckle Cat: Casey Purlia Johnson
Stitches/Firechief/Humperkink: Sierra Ottilie-Kovelman
Afarmer Alfalfa/Dig Pig: Natalie Fry
Blacksmith Fox/Airport Worker/Grandma Bear: Hana Berry
Lowly Worm: Alana Austin
Mate/Letter Carrier: Maya Hertz
Postman/Dr. Lion: Ryan Luster
Captain Salty/Jason/Able Baker Charlie: Zoe Franks
Betsy Bear: Caroline Lezny

Director/Choreographer: Torrie Dunlap
Music Director: Patrick Marion
Production Manager/Lighting Design: Tony Cucuzzella
Costume Design: Nicolette Gilman
Hair/Make-up Design: Richard May
Technical Director/Set Design: Cynthia Bloodgood


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