There are two musicals about labor unrest on New York stages. In one, Billy Elliott, the British coal mining industry is decimated by Margaret Thatcher’s intransigence.
In the other, Click, Clack, MOO, three freezing cows refuse to give milk until Farmer Brown supplies them with blankets. Electric blankets, if you please. Farmer Brown tries to break the strike by marketing eggs (“Eggs are the new milk,” he announces), but the cows persuade the chickens (they’re “chicken”) to not produce eggs until their demand is met. When the bank threatens to foreclose on Farmer Brown, he relents and provides the blankets. It’s an uplifting ending to a terrific one-hour musical play that had my five-year old granddaughter Carolina – and me – rooting for the shivering cows and cheering their victory.
This is a good a time to point out that while tickets for Billy Elliot top $100 (arguably worth it), all performances of Click, Clack, MOO are free, as in No Charge.
Farmer Brown (Drew McVety) confiscates his granddaughter Jenny’s (Sarah Katherine Gee) computer because she’s always emailing her BFFs. (Well, yeah…) He stashes it, complete with printer, in the frigid barn. The cows figure out how to print-out their ultimatum (they’re “fast learners”) and ask Duck (DeMond B. Nason), who is protected from the cold by his down, to deliver it to Farmer Brown. (“Get Down,” Duck sings, in a sophisticated score that includes such other titles as “Mad Cows” and “Boiled Chickens”.)
My favorite character was Maddie (Kristy Cates), the bovine Norma Rae who spearheads the work stoppage. Caro’s was the “boy cow” (no bull, Michael Thomas Holmes plays a cow), who eats an entire pizza, followed closely by sweet, demure cow Darlene (Gretchen Bieber). (Duck earned everyone’s admiration by labeling Farmer Brown a “stinky-head”.)
While aimed at children ages four and up (who all sit rapt, btw), it’s no juvenile effort. Produced by Theatreworks USA, directed by Tony-Award winner John Rando (Urinetown) and choreographed by top-notch pro Wendy Seyb (Toxic Avenger), Click, Clack, MOO boasts among its cast nine Broadway shows and numerous off-Broadway and National tours. No stinky-heads here.
And did I mention the tickets are free?
“Click, Clack, MOO” runs through August 28 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher Street, West Village, NYC. Performances Mon, Tues, Wed and Fri at 10:30am and 1pm; Thurs at 10:30am, 1pm and 6pm; and Sun at 1pm. Free tickets are on a first-come, first-served basis at the theater one hour before curtain time. No individual reservations are accepted, but summer camps, youth programs and social-services organizations can reserve for groups of ten or more by calling 212-627-7373.