A big, red, furry friend came to entertain at the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Jan. 28.
Celebrating his 50th anniversary this year, Clifford has provided happiness to many people over the years. The original children’s book series written by Jeremy Dobrish was first published in 1963.
The show opened-up in the wintertime. Emily Elizabeth, played by Christina Rose Rahn, wanted a dog for Christmas.
She finally convinced her parents to go look at potential dogs to bring home.
There were four dogs that she had to choose from, and she chose a red dog, that was the runt of the litter.
After bringing this new friend home to her city house, Emily Elizabeth started to engage the audience into the performance. She asked the children what she should name her dog, and the majority responded loudly with the name “Clifford.”
She thought that name fit very well, and so she started to play with Clifford around the house.
Clifford, a small and potentially harmless dog, decided to have some fun and hid under furniture. Emily Elizabeth asked for some help finding the dog, which, of course, led to lots of excitement from the children in the audience.
After an exhausting first day with Clifford, Emily Elizabeth and Clifford went to bed. When she woke up the next morning, Clifford was huge.
Her parents started to understand the warning about Clifford being the runt of the litter, seeing that he was 9 feet tall and 12 feet long.
Emily Elizabeth’s parents realized that there was no way Clifford could stay in a house in the city, and so they made a decision to move to Birdwell Island. It would provide Clifford to play and run.
The musical number “On Birdwell Island” provided lots of entertainment, because along with the actors and actresses dancing, Clifford danced along.
The big red dog dancing along during this number provided lots of laughter.
Shortly after the family moved, Emily Elizabeth went to school.
She met her first friends, Charley and Jetta. Both of her friends also had dogs, and so Clifford, Cleo and T-bone became doggie friends.
Even though Clifford was a large and lovable dog, he often found himself in a lot of trouble. He broke a traffic light in town. Emily Elizabeth was then forced to be responsible and write a letter to the mayor explaining what happened.
Emily Elizabeth brought Clifford in for show-and-tell. The teacher was amazed by his size, but enjoyed his lovable qualities.
The school welcomed Emily Elizabeth and Clifford even though he was a huge and crazy dog.
The show was certainly directed toward children, but also taught many values that everyone needs to be reminded of–responsibility, friendship and love.
After portraying these values in the show, the parents show their enthusiasm and pride in Emily Elizabeth for raising and training a unique dog.
“Clifford the Big Red Dog TM- Live!” was an exciting show for the audience, but production stage manager, Derek Johnson, also found the performance exciting.
“The kids are the most exciting part for me. When you get the kids’ reaction, it’s a reaction like no other for the adults. It’s emotional because it’s encouraging to see everyone’s initial reaction to Clifford,” Johnson said.
The dynamic of the children’s show was intriguing because of the engagement that the writers put into the show.
“Anytime we can break the fourth wall is incredible. I don’t think you should do a children’s show without talking to the audience,” Johnson said.
The excitement that the audience brought only added to the enthusiasm of the cast, which made the performance very successful.
Shippensburg University enjoyed Clifford’s presence and wishes him well on his next adventures to Canada.