Chicago Theater Review: DUCK FOR PRESIDENT (Lifeline)

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by Sally Jo Osborne on October 23, 2012

in Theater-Chicago


All aboard!  Duck is hitting the campaign circuit so be kind to your web-footed friends by taking the family out to see Duck for President; meanwhile, don’t forget to vote. Based on the popular 2004 bestseller by Doreen Cronin and Besty Lewin, Lifeline brings the farm to life in this quirky and quacky show adapted by James E. Grote from the children’s book of the same name by Doreen Cronin; directed by Shole Milos, with music and lyrics by George Howe.

Sally Jo Osborne’s Stage and Cinema review of Lifeline’s DUCK FOR PRESIDENT in Chicago

When the animals in Farmer Brown’s (Derek Czaplewski’s) barn decide to protest their daily chores, a democracy is formed and an election is soon underway. “Why does Farmer Brown have to be in charge?” a devilishly charming duck named Duck demands to know.  Duck (Nathaniel Niemi) decides he will become get himself elected head farmer and dispense with all these tedious chores.  One of his campaign promises is that there will be a pizza night every Tuesday.

A very smart and clever Pig (Heather Currie) is all for it. She is a big believer, and eventually becomes Duck’s campaign manager. In “Hitch Your Wagon to a Star,” a snappy song, she explains how not only Duck, but she (Pig) will get into the spotlight, which is where she wants to be. Hen (Amanda Link) on the other hand doesn’t get her feathers too ruffled; she thinks Farmer Brown is doing a fine job.  Cow (Amy Malcolm) is the cynic of the herd and doesn’t hold back on her opinions.  In fact she makes the rules about voting:  No kids (or calves, chicks, ducklings, etc.), a valid ID is necessary, and all voters must live on the farm.

Sally Jo Osborne’s Stage and Cinema review of Lifeline’s DUCK FOR PRESIDENT in ChicagoDuck claims to be an honest politician, and is even heard to insist, “I am not a crook!” I think we have all heard that before.  There are a lot of funny references made throughout the show that the kids won’t get, but the grownups will laugh out loud. (My personal favorite is: “Read my beak.”)

Duck wins the election and becomes head farmer, but soon finds out the grass is not always greener on the other side, so he moves on to even greener pastures by running for governor and later for president.  There are a lot of lessons for our future voters contained within this show.  What is an election? What is a democracy? What is a debate? Why does every vote matter?

Czaplewski plays multiple roles, and is quite entertaining, especially as a woman governor who is Duck’s running mate.  The songs are upbeat and at times a bit reminiscent of Will Roger’s Follies.  The set is simple and is completely utilized; the costumes are clever enough for us to believe and identify which all the characters.

My five year old daughter enjoyed this show as much as I did, and it completely kept her interest.  Anyone younger than five would probably be better served staying at home to watch The Wiggles. With the 2012 election right around the corner, the show is, of course, both timely and educational.  There may be just a bit more understanding about why we vote (and how to decide who to vote for) in our household. As duck said during his campaign speech, “Vote for me because the economy is stupid.”  He might just have something there.

Sally Jo Osborne’s Stage and Cinema review of Lifeline’s DUCK FOR PRESIDENT in Chicago

photos by Suzanne Plunkett

Duck for President
Lifeline Theater
scheduled to end on November 25, 2012
for tickets, call 773-761-4477 or visit

For info on this and other Chicago Theater, visit

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