School House Rock
Musical - 1 Act, Revue, Book Musical, Pop / Rock
Book by Scott Ferguson, Kyle Hall and George Keating ; Music and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, Bob Dorough, Dave Frishberg, Kathy Mandry, George Newall and Tom Yohe; Based on an idea by David McCall and television series created by George Newall and Tom Yohe
Schoolhouse Rock Live!
The original Schoolhouse Rock television series was the brainchild of an advertising executive who noticed his son could remember all the words to popular songs on the radio, but could not remember the multiplication tables. He reasoned that if important educational information was coupled with exciting animation and catchy music, children would be able to learn and remember it. From this simple idea, Schoolhouse Rock was born and quickly adopted by ABC-TV which broadcast the series on Saturday mornings from 1973 to 1985.
Tom, a young teacher, is at home, nervously preparing for his very first day at school. To relax, he watches television and is surprised to see Schoolhouse Rock, a 1970's educational animated series. Five people suddenly appear in Tom's house. Manifestations of the different sides of Tom's personality, they have gathered to give Tom the confidence he needs and to show him how to win his students over with imagination and music. By the time the show is over, Tom is ready to face his first day - school's in!
In the dark we hear the sound of an alarm clock ringing and we are introduced to Tom, a young teacher preparing for his first day of school, standing in his bathrobe. As he rehearses what he will say, he hears the school bell and the sound of the children settling into their desks. One at a time we see Tom’s “other sides”, as they enter speaking his thoughts. We are introduced to George, the romantic side; Dori, the goofy side; Schulie, the sweet side; Joe, the cool side; and Dina, the mature side. They tell us his thoughts that range from “I love children” to “these monsters are going to eat me alive”. Tom decides to try and watch some television while he settles down and collects his thoughts. When he turns on the TV we hear the theme to Schoolhouse Rock. The characters begin to sing one of the familiar songs that Tom instantly recognizes (Verb: That’s What’s Happening). As the song goes on, Tom as swept up in the excitement and begins to sing and dance with the others. As it ends, he is startled to find himself standing with a group of strange people that he does not recognize. They explain to him that they represent all of the thoughts in his head. They represent everywhere he has been, everyone he has known, and every person that he has ever met. They explain that they are there to help Tom remember that teaching is as easy as 1,2,3.
Still thinking that all of this is a hallucination, he continues to try and get rid of the others. They explain to him that he needs them; and “necessity is the mother of invention” (Mother Necessity). Tom is asked to remember why he wanted to be a teacher in the first place. He remembers that his grandmother and her mother before that were teachers. Teaching was one of the few opportunities for women to work at that time (Sufferin’ Till Suffrage). He also remembers working at his grandfather’s hardware store as a child and sneaking away on Saturday mornings to watch Schoolhouse Rock. After Schulie and company sing “Unpack Your Adjectives”, Tom reminds them that he not only has to teach grammar, but math, science, and social studies as well. Caught up in the moment, Tom remembers one very important thing; that learning should be fun.
When the gang becomes exhausted from all of the excitement, Tom encourages them to stay active and to keep their blood moving. Joe then tells the group that he is ready to sing a song and will need the help of you, me, him, them, and her. Dori enters with Tom’s guitar and hands it to Schulie who says about her playing, “Oh … on a scale from one to ten, I’d give myself about an eight. Schulie reminds Tom that “Figure Eight” was the way she had learned her eight multiplication tables. Joe and Shulie enter in their leather jacket and poodle skirt and dance to George’s rock and roll physics lesson. George and Schulie then join together to sing “Zero, My Hero” while the rest of the gang acts out their duet.
Tom goes over all of the parts of speech that they have covered (adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, nouns, and verbs) and wonders what they have left out. Conjunctions! – and where do they come together – at the junction! Joe reminds Tom that English will not be the first language of many of his students. School will be a very important transition to America for many of his students, just as America went through an important transition as it struggled to expand and continues to expand. Hey! Wow! The thought of going to the moon has the whole group energized, and what kind of word bets expresses that energy – “Interjections”. Tom then thanks them all for helping him remember that learning can be fun. He asks them to stay around and listen to him do a song. As the song ends, all of the characters are gathered around Tom as if he were teaching. “Any questions, kids?”, he asks – and on the final beat we see Schulie’s hand go in the air.
- Verb, That's What's Happening
- A Noun is a Person, Place or Thing
- Three Is a Magic Number
- Mother Necessity
- Sufferin' Till Suffrage
- Lolly, Lolly, Lolly
- Unpack Your Adjectives
- Just a Bill
- The Preamble
- Ready or Not, Here I Come
- Do the Circulation
- Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla
- Figure Eight
- A Victim of Gravity
- Zero is My Hero
- Conjunction Junction
- Great American Melting Pot
- Elbow Room
- Interplanet Janet
- The Tale of Mr Morton
- DINA The mature side - thoughtful and grounded. (Mezzo)
- DORI The goofy side - silly and playful. ( Mezzo)
- GEORGE The romantic side - caring and in control. ( Baritone)
- JOE The cool side - laid-back and fun-loving. (Baritone)
- SHULIE The sweet side - genuine. (Alto)
- TOM A young teacher who has just received his degree. (Baritone)
percussion, keyboard, bass guitar db. banjo