Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Mr. Chickee's Funny Money. It was based on the book by Christopher Paul Curtis and written by David Inger and the music and lyrics were by Lamont Dozier and Paris Dozier. It was directed by Derrick Sanders who also directed Bud, Not Buddy.It was about a kid named Steven (Jonathan Butler-Duplessis) and his two friends Richelle (Ashley Elizabeth Honore)and Russell (Travis Turner) and their dog friend Zoopy (Sam Deutsch). They have a club called the Flint Future Detectives and they are trying to solve the mystery of a quadrillion dollar bill and if it is real. People should go and see this show. It is a fun show even though it is not exactly like the book.
In the show they made a few changes from the book. I had one that I did like and one that I didn't like. The one that I didn't like was how they made Zoopy Mr. Chickee's dog instead of Russell's. I didn't like that because then Steven couldn't have Zoopy at the end. I thought the "Zoop! Zoop! Zoopy!" call didn't work either. It was too cheesy. They get Zoopy back in the book when he is thought to be a bear in the circus and he ate all of Steven's food. It made it more sad because you thought Steven was dreaming and Zoopy is really dead. And they don't just call him in the book. I liked how they put Richelle in to the club because she is actually in the book, but she didn't have as big a role. I liked it in the play because I thought there should be more girls in the story that have bigger parts. I think she was a cool character.
I thought that it was really funny how Russell was obsessed with peanut butter and was eating it every moment. When they were walking around, Richelle had a calculator (she called it a gal-culator), Steven had a magnifying glass, and Russell, you guessed it, peanut butter. The rap battle between Richelle and Steven was crazy in a good way. They were rapping and one of the biggest things Richelle said was, "You make Kanye look like Martin Luther King." That is one of the reasons that she won, because the audience went ooooh! Steven didn't have as many good rap lines, but he was a great rapper. It wasn't about how good you were but about how many good slams you had. So in the end Richelle won and walked away with her gal-culator.
There were three agents: Agent Fondoo (Brian Grey), Agent 3 (Travis Turner), and Agent 2 (Elena Marisa Flores). I thought that they were really hilarious and I liked it when Agent Fondoo started dancing because it was weird to have that at that moment, and it happened, and that was really funny. When the agents were doing their dance to "I'm on the Case," Agent 2 and Agent 3 were basically like the background dancers, and that was really funny. I liked it when at the end they were running around in and out of the market without noticing that the kids were just standing there staring at them.
The Zoopy puppet I thought was really big and really cool and really cute. The person who played Zoopy was also the puppet designer. He had to get in his own puppet! It didn't really seem like a real dog, but it was so cool. It was cool that it seemed like it was basically made out of mops. You could tell that he was really crazy because of his appearance.
The parents, Elmwood (Bear Bellinger) and Lynetta (Alexis J. Rogers), I thought were really funny. So the mom is doing yoga and the dad is like, sniff! "Someone is touching my records!" Like he can smell when someone is touching his records. And I thought that was really funny because people can't smell if someone is touching his records. I thought the mom was really funny because of how nice she was but when the dad said no to something she got really uptight and said, "Did you think this was a conversation? You are taking that boy out tomorrow!"
I think that Mr. Chickee (Yaw Agyeman) did a really good job at seeming old. I really liked the song "It's in the Music" where he talked about how much he liked music. I really like how he took off his coat and under that was the purple tuxedo. I thought that his singing seemed like an old man singing, but in a really good way. I think his character in the play was better than how he was in the book. Because here he seemed more part of the story rather than being like, "Here's the money. Goodbye" and walks away into the shadows mysteriously.
I loved how they made so many references to James Brown. I really liked it when Elmwood, Steven's dad, when they touched his James Brown records, he spun around and landed on one knee and put his hand on his head like he was trying to keep on a hat. And then when Steven got a few more of his records, his mom came on with a red sparkly cape and patted the dad on the back while he was pretend crying. That's like James Brown because that is like his biggest routine--the cape routine--and one of his most famous too. I thought that guy was good at doing the dance moves. He did it so fast that he did it almost as fast as James Brown!
People who would like this show are people who like James Brown, giant dogs, and peanut butter. People should go see this show because it is funny, makes you want to dance, and is good to go to with your family. This show makes you feel nice. Like sugar and spice! Aooow!
Photos: Chuck Osgood