If you are looking for a genuinely enjoyable and enriching experience for kids, then The Berenstain Bears could be just the ticket. The Off-Broadway musical is not only fun it imparts some good advice like studying, eating healthy and listening to parents.
Adapted from the classic childrens’ book series by Stan and Jan Berenstain, the musical, known formally as The Berenstain Bears LIVE! in Family Matters, the Musical also includes plenty of humor and instills a love for theater in children.
Featuring an original score and book by Michael Borton and Michael Slade, the musical includes tunes as adorable as their titles (“Phooey”, “Family Matters” and “It’s Not Fair”).
Kids are given the option of being a part of the action by sitting in the grassy knolls, a fuzzy green carpet that acts as an extension in front of the stage.
Adults will enjoy watching the kids rapt with excitement as Mama, Papa, Sister and Brother prance through Bear County. The musical is always engaging and full of eye candy.
Fans of the books will appreciate Luke Hegel-Cantarella’s cartoonish sets true to the illustrations in the Berenstains’ books.
Though the furry aspects of the bears’ costumes are somewhat low-budget, Mama Bear’s blue dress and Papa Bear’s overalls are immediately recognizable and culled straight from the pages of the storybooks.
Laura LaVon’s eye for re-creating the look of the books is excellent. Look for an especially fun costume choice when Papa Bear suffers a memorable mishap with his pants in the best song in the show, “Fluff on Your Tummy.”
The actors in The Berenstain Bears are fully committed to their roles; they continue to dance with glee throughout the entirety of the show- even during set changes.
A cast of eight takes on a number of different lovable bears, from Dr. Grizzly and Gran to Lizzie and Freddy.
The performers’ investment in the somewhat textbook choreography is a true pleasure for the young cubs in the audience, and commendably it doesn’t end with their final bows.
After the show, kids can get their noses painted black for a lovable photo, holding a pot of honey as they pose with their new bear family.
The Berenstain Bearsencourages kids to read more about their new friends and will leave a lasting impression on everyone who visits Bear County.
The show will be remembered as a theatrical experience whether or not the youngsters were previously familiar with the series. No one will leave this show without “bearing” a newfound love for all things Berenstain.
The Berenstain Bears LIVE! in Family Matters, the Musical is now playing at MMAC (Manhattan Movement and Arts Center), 248 West 60th St. in New York.
Visit www.BerenstainBearsLive.com for ticket information.