Salt Lake Acting Company made its reputation on risk-taking productions. Just because the stage adaptation of Go, Dog, Go! is based on P.D. Eastman’s early-reader book doesn’t mean it doesn’t also fit that description.
After all, it’s no easy task taking a story with about as many words as you can count on your fingers and toes and turning it into something engaging as an hourlong piece of live theater. But director Jerry Rapier and company have created something that, while pitched at the little ones, still has enough spark to keep adults smiling.
It starts with a simple-but-vibrant stage design and color scheme, the actors-as-canines— including Colleen Baum, Jay Perry and City Weekly’s own online video queen, Deena Marie Manzanares—wearing bright shirts and dyed Converse high-tops as they dance and frolic around the two large doghouses on either side of the stage. David Evanoff provides an energetic one-man-band of musical accompaniment for the cast members, all of whom throw themselves into their physical performances.
And those physical performances work because their largely pantomimed set pieces enhance the repetitious snippets of dialogue. The “dogs” parade across the stage on scooters, turn a fluttering piece of fabric into a river, play a slow-motion game of baseball and have silly fun on their collective bed even though “it is time for sleep.” There’s even a little audience participation to make an even livelier experience. No need to over-think the metaphor of many-hued creatures playing and partying together in harmony. It’s as fundamentally effective and memorable as its source material.