Gold star

History Time Henry

Conceived, written and performed by Michael Schloegl
Vital Children's Theatre
Equity showcase (closed)
Review by Doug DeVita

Michael Schloegl's History Time Henry is an amiable chap who takes children on a journey through time and space via his "Time Machine," imparting oodles of historical information along the way. Beginning with the creation of the U.S. Constitution and continuing through our ever-expanding 19th-century frontier, the suffragette movement of the early 20th century, Rosa Parks's stand for racial equality in mid-century, the 1969 lunar landing, and a tour of the present-day White House, "H.T. Henry" (in the persona of Michael Schloegl) made American history an engaging and lighthearted romp for children of all ages. Schloegl, who conceived, wrote, and performed the show, held the stage with inviting authority, and had the kids in the audience in the palm of his hand for the entire 50-minute running time. His bouncy score (and like delivery of same) kept the production well-fueled, and the audience-participation segments (particularly a sequence with Schloegl teaching the children to moonwalk) were priceless moments worthy of Kodak. His set -- a wacky concoction of painted gears and white curtains -- whirred, blurped, and flashed multicolored lights with energetic abandon; his costumes were a wacky assortment of period breeches, dresses, frock coats, and wigs; there were a seemingly endless variety of wacky props; and the whole production moved with the precision of a clock whose cuckoo burst forth every few minutes with another bit of endearingly wacky but ever-useful knowledge. If only school were this much fun!

It was interesting to note that the show, being a history lesson set to music, might seem to appeal to an older audience than is usual for VCT. But that wasn't the case. The most involved members of the audience were two little girls of three and five years old, who consistently beat their elders to the punch with enthusiastic, and correct, responses to Schloegl's questions and to requests for onstage company. The three-year-old, in fact, was so wrapped up in the show that every time she caught Schloegl's attention, she bounded onto the stage as if it were her domain. Which under the beneficent rule of Schloegl, and History Time Henry, it most certainly was.

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Sets: 1
Costumes: 2
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2002 Doug DeVita