Gretchen Bieber, Kristy Cates, and Michael Thomas Holmes
in Click, Clack, Moo
(© Joan Marcus)
Gretchen Bieber, Kristy Cates, and Michael Thomas Holmes
in Click, Clack, Moo
(© Joan Marcus)
Farmer Brown may want to think that "Everything's smooth as silk" on his farm, but he's unaware of the growing unrest among his workforce. The barn is so cold the cows can't sleep at night. Also, there's an almost gang-like animosity between the cows -- which produce the best milk in the state -- and the chickens. The cows' working conditions and the strife between the worker factions is the stuff of Doreen Cronin's popular children's book Click, Clack, Moo, a delightful new musical that will appeal to audiences of all ages, now being presented free by Theaterworks USA at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.

The cows -- the perky Darlene (adorably played by Gretchen Bieber), the dimwitted Loretta (an amusing Michael Thomas Holmes) and the firebrand Maddie (a spunky and vocally galvanizing Kristy Cates) -- aren't sure how to protest the unbearable cold in the barn until the intractable Brown (an appealing Drew McVety) decides that his granddaughter Jenny (Sarah Katherine Gee) is spending too much time on her laptop computer. When Brown deposits the machine and the printer in the barn, the cows soon realize that they can type messages about their displeasure to him.

When he ignores their requests for blankets, they go on strike. Brown tries to get the chickens to work as scabs, reasoning that selling eggs can be just as profitable as selling milk. Bovines and poultry ultimately unite though, and it's only after some hurried negotiating -- with a hip, wiseacre duck (Demond B. Nason) acting as intermediary -- that a settlement is reached.

While kids will delight in Billy Aronson's clever book, older theatergoers will glean their amusement from the way in which composer Brad Alexander's music echoes Leonard Bernstein's work for West Side Story as the brawl between the groups unfolds. Similarly, the R&B-infused "Get Down" may amuse younger theatergoers with its infectious melody (and Nason's energetic performance), but lyricist Keven Del Aguila's deft handling of the double-meaning of "down" is really best appreciated by adults.

John Rando's staging on the brightly colored-cartoon like set from Beowulf Boritt is fleet enough to ensure that even the youngest theatergoers are never bored while his directorial flourishes -- often collaboratively created with choreographer Wendy Seyb -- are truly for the more experienced audience members. Even Lora LaVon's costume design manages to delight all generations, which is no easy feat.