SALT LAKE CITY — Based on Richard Scarry’s popular children’s books by the same name, Busytown: A Musical is incredibly engaging for audiences of all shapes and sizes. The kids have a blast, and those of us a few years older can still delight in how fun and well written this regional premiere is.
The story follows Huckle the Cat as he desperately wants to be part of Busytown’s busy day. Dozens of characters dot the day as the audience learns about economics, the postal service, cooking, fire safety and nearly as many more jobs and tasks as there are kids in the audience. It is incredible how much this show taught in just 90 minutes without becoming even slightly claustrophobic.
Bryce Isaacson heads up the evening as our host, Huckle the Cat. He brings an incredibly tangible energy to the show that immediately engages the audience in the story on stage.
Huckle’s mother is played by Michelle Blake. She also plays the desperately lovesick nurse doting on Lowly the Worm. Her doo-wop, “He’s Just A Lowly Worm,” was very fun and brought a smile to everyone in the audience.
While Lowly (played by Spencer Jackson Hohl) never actually speaks a word, he is charmingly expressive with a gait that all the kids try to mimic during the intermission.
Joseph Kyle Rogan delivers an engaging performance as Captain Salty looking for his parrot, Kevin, and singing about his favorite letter (yes, it’s “r”).
The strongest vocals of the night came from Emily Trulson Parker as Betsy Bear writing a letter to her grandma. Her lovingly innocent friendship with Huckle adds another sweet note to her performance.
Jana Cox provides is a strong and versatile performer as well, taking on the roles of Blacksmith Fox, Grandma and many more characters.
Finally, David K. Martin brought out the loudest laughs with the highly interactive train song led by our favorite engineer from da’ hood and then the European Able Baker Charlie who felt perfectly comfortable seducing one of the more age-appropriate audience members in attendance.
Director Jennifer Parker Hohl and choreographer Marilyn Montgomery have done a phenomenal job with this show. It’s the most fun I’ve had yet at The Children’s Theatre. This is an incredibly talented cast that provides one more reason for the Children’s Theatre to shine. Busytown could not do a better job mixing education about the world with the fun of musical theatre and that’s exactly why it’s a perfect fit for this Salt Lake institution.
SPECIAL EVENT: On Saturday, May 22nd, The Children’s Theatre will host a free workshop to meet our local Busytown featuring a pastry chef from Madeleine’s Café, a representative from the Salt Lake City Fire Department, a presenter from the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, and Oakland Construction will highlight the big developments of Salt Lake City’s City Creek Center and what’s in store for downtown. You can register for this free workshop at TCTheatre.org.