Of course, those are only a few favorites of fans who grew up watching ABC’s educational cartoon shorts. And fans span at least three generations.
“Parents are the ones who buy tickets to children’s theater, and this is a show that’s also a part of them,” Anthony Runfola says.
“Unfortunately, there are no longer any Saturday morning cartoons,” Runfola says. “The CW network was the last to broadcast them, and they’ve recently taken them off the air.”
But “Schoolhouse Rock,” still lives through this musical tour, which celebrates the series’ 41st anniversary.
“We staged it at Childsplay first,” Runfola says. “We started planning it during the 40th anniversary, which wasn’t the reason we staged it, but it was a nice tie-in. People always love ‘Schoolhouse Rock,’ so we felt like it would be a good production for us.”
“Schoolhouse Rock” debuted on the ABC television network in 1973, covering such topics as grammar, science, economics, history, mathematics and civics accompanied by a variety of musical genres from jazz to country. The series ended in 1985 but was revived for a four-year run in 1993. Additional episodes were produced for a direct-to-video release in 2009.
“The musical debuted in Chicago during the 20th anniversary of the series,” Runfola says.
Four cast members tell the story which opens with Tom, a teacher who is nervous about his first day on the job. He tries to relax by watching television, when various characters representing different facets of his personality emerge from the set.
Each works his or her magic to show Tom how to win over his students through imagination and music.
Having trouble with grammar? Well, come on down to “Conjunction Junction,” where you can “Unpack Your Adjectives.” Is math a problem? Learn why “Three is a Magic Number.”
Having trouble learning the U.S. Constitution? Well, there’s a song for that simply titled, “Preamble.”
“It’s sort of a nostalgic trip for a lot of people.” Runfola says.
Still, it may introduce some audience members to a new world. The Manship Theatre also is offering two school performances at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 20. Many of these students have never seen “Schoolhouse Rock” episodes.
“A lot of teachers in schools use the videos in their classrooms, so some kids may have been exposed to it,” Runfola says. “But many haven’t, and this is something that people want to share with their kids.”
Some may even want to share it with their grandchildren. And some may just want to celebrate their own nostalgia, which is why the Manship Theatre is hosting a “Conjunction Function Schoolhouse Rock Happy Hour” from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. before the performance in the Manship Gallery next to the theater.
The reception will include “Schoolhouse Rock”-themed drink specials. Patrons are asked to bring a book to donate to Juvenile Detention Services to receive $1 off their drinks.
“A lot of people grew up with this series,” Runfola says. “Our production has actually been cut down from the full-length production. It’s about an hour long, which works better with schools.”
And though Runfola won’t be making the trip to Baton Rouge, he still has a “Schoolhouse Rock” favorite. Or maybe two.
“I love ‘Conjunction Junction,’” he says, laughing. “But ‘Verb, That’s What’s Happenin’’ is also one of my favorites. There are so many, and they’re all fun.”