parents lock elbows with each other over the last Sponge Bob
costume available at the party store this Halloween weekend,
a shining respite presents itself in the form of a charming,
family friendly musical comedy review called "Are We There
Yet?," presented by Prairie Fire Theatre.
This delightful journey down the road of life
hits all the highlights, from senior prom, to childbirth, blind
dates, empty nests, aging parents, and what it really means
to be a family.
Often poignant, this production opens with
the musical question "Are We There Yet?," an homage
to those long car trips, gets us laughing with the innovative "New
Baby Rap," gets our toes tapping with " 'Cause I'm
a Mommy," ponders "What Happened to the Good Old
Days?," and reminds us no matter what to "Enjoy the
And for those of us with unresolved issues,
my personal favorite, "Your Parents Push Your Buttons
'Cause They Put 'Em There!" What a relief to find this
is a universal theme! Whew! I can finally let some things go.
Therapy, set to music -- What's not to like
Making its Illinois debut at the Normal Theater, "Are
We There Yet?" was co-created by Normal native Ray Roderick,
and was produced and directed by fellow ISU classmates Robert
Mangialardi and Phil Shaw, respectively.
Inspired by, and similar in structure to the
popular "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," this
production features a four-member ensemble, who change many
hats and run life's gamut, from acne to Alzheimer's.
Nola Richardson, Jennifer Peterson, Brandon
Albee and Michael McHugh are the hard-working players, and
all display impressive vocal ability.
I especially enjoyed the vocal blend of the
ladies on the touching duet "I Know She's Out There," a
beautiful number that addresses adoption. The gentlemen in
the cast also share the stage in the comic offering "Blood
is Thicker Than Water," a song about the knots in one's
Accompanied by a lone piano played by musical
director Elizabeth Tuazon, this delightful script often feels
as though it needs a little more "oomph," as the
energy level fluctuates. Considering the work load, this is
I must tip my hat to Michael McHugh for being
consistently animated and connecting with the audience in his
numbers "Dad's First Prom" and "Bernie's Buffet." A
natural showman, McHugh looked very comfortable in front of
With something for everyone, "Are We
There Yet?" is a ride worth taking.
Patricia Stiller is a freelance writer who
reviews plays for The Pantagraph.
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