Drunk, Sober, High: Clifford The Big Red Dog Live
The ever-popular children’s picture book series, “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” is Emmy Award-winning series that captured the hearts of children across the country on PBS Kids. But on Sunday night, everyone’s favorite giant red dog took to the stage for a live performance.
To our excitement, Clifford came to Penn State this Sunday during parents weekend. We could hardly wait to witness this spectacle and learn more about sharing, playing fair, believing in ourselves, and all the other wisdom Clifford had to share with us.
However, some of us imbibed prior to the show, consuming various adult beverages and/or substances. We introduce to you Drunk, Sober, High: Clifford the Big Red Dog edition.
As I approached the Eisenhower auditorium on the rainy and cloudy Sunday afternoon, I immediately heard excited squeals. Toddlers were hopping and bounding toward the theatre, each sporting a pair of big red dog ears. “Oh god” I thought while trying not to laugh, “Here we go.”
I met up with High, who was really starting to feel a bit out-of-body. At that point, so was I, as I polished off the rest of my “Gatorade.” We awkwardly walked up to the ticket booth and muttered “Hi, yes. A ticket for Clifford, please.” We strolled into the theatre alongside a few mothers and grandmothers. Suddenly, upbeat and joyous music flooded our ears, immersing us in what looked to be like a grand spectacle.
The theatre went dark, signaling the start of the show. The main female protagonist, from what my inebriated mind could comprehend, was a schoolgirl named Emily Elizabeth. She had a few other quirky and smiley friends, who all seemed to LOVE singing about anything from “Show and Tell” to “How to Make Friends.” (Gee, thanks Emily Elizabeth. Where was this musical advice during my first semester freshman year?)
Clifford started off as a small young pup. However, after some flashing lights and special effects — which really mesmerized my intoxicated mind — Clifford blossomed into his full-grown, giant canine self. As you can imagine, the kids went wild.
What I really loved the most about this show was how interactive it was; I really felt immersed. Clifford loved to talk to his audience, often asking for advice or commentary. For example, he asked us, “What are YOUR favorite activities?” Prompting at least 20 young sprouts to shoot up their hands and flail like mad, all demanding the big dog’s attention. “I WIKE SPORTS!” “PWAYING DWESS UP!” “PWAYING VIDEO GAMES!” To all these exclamations Clifford simply nodded and said, “Oh yeah! I love those too!”
The biggest culture shock was probably trying to comprehend the fact that there are people above and below the ages of 18-22. I had not seen that many little whipper snappers in a VERY long time. I looked around the audience in pure wonder and amazement. The children in attendance were all smiling radiantly, with drool and various mushy food items cascading down their mouths. Some were even gallivanting outside the rows, flapping about, and bathing in the pure ecstasy that is Clifford. There was simply an abundance of small humans. Overall this was a unique experience. I would suggest “Clifford The Dog: Live!” to any friend.
Of course, Drunk and I showed up a little late, so it was a bit awkward walking through the sea of parents and kindergarten-aged children fully immersed in the spectacle that is “Clifford The Big Red Dog Live!” to find our seats. Just as I was starting to feel like my feet were glued to the floor of Eisenhower Auditorium, I realized just how funny it was to see adult actors playing high-voiced kids and skipping children.
Then, when Emily Elizabeth (Clifford’s owner) went to bed one night, a red and black storm of clouds rolled in and Clifford magically became enormous, forcing the family to move from their city apartment to Birdwell Island. While moving in, they met a peculiar neighbor who walked around hunched over. My high self even could’ve sworn he looked like Jordan Peele from Comedy Central and our favorite Homecoming grand marshal Keegan-Michael Key’s “Key and Peele.”
The best part of the show, by far, though, was when Clifford’s dog friends, T-Bone and Ms. Cleo, came out on stage. These actors in dark-colored jumpsuits, with hats covering their eyes, moved the dog puppets around the stage and even on top of Clifford while singing inspiring tunes about being a good friend.
“Clifford The Big Red Dog Live!” was definitely a wild experience, and going blazed made it even crazier, but with good company (Drunk) and an obligation to uphold my investigative duty as a journalist, I found it totally worth my time.
Like any other college student, I was clearly hyped to be going to see “Clifford The Big Red Dog Live!” and I was even more excited to be attending the event sober. I was set to be one of the only four people in the audience not aged under eight or over 30, but I didn’t even make it to the show. I was in a rush headed back from a weekend away from State, and when I got back to east halls I threw my bags in my dorm and rushed over to Eisenhower.
To my dismay they stopped selling the tickets for the show (only $15 for students) and I wasn’t allowed in. I tried to see if they would let me slide in the back with my inebriated and stoned counterparts as a member of the press, but to my further dismay, the highly qualified and expressive house manager had to make it quite clear I wasn’t even allowed on the premises to peep a listen to the joyful tune of my favorite big red dog, Clifford.
As I walked away in my Clifford The Big Red dog classic T-shirt holding my one of a kind Clifford stuffed toy, teary-eyed, lonely, and especially cold from the State College snowfall, all that crossed my mind was that I will never get that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity back.
We urge you to attend a Clifford musical once in your lifetime. The state of sobriety you’re in? That’s your call.