Imagine being a child and seeing your favorite television stars in person. For me, that moment occurred at a TG&Y Department Store on Breckenridge Lane when Burt Ward made a personal appearance clad in his Robin costume in the mid-70s. But Tuesday night's Nickelodeon Storytime Live! production at the Kentucky Center for the Arts' Whitney Hall provided more fun, music, and interaction than any super hero autograph signing could ever muster. And if my three-year-old is any indication, the children in attendance for the performance weren't disappointed.
All day he kept saying he was "going to see my friends," and that's truly how so many toddlers see these characters - as their friends. Still despite the excitement, being in a darkened large theater can be intimidating for pre-schoolers, but once Moose A. Moose came on stage, their fears seemed alleviated. The show started with The Monkey King Adventure with the cast of Ni-Hao, Kai-lan and was followed by a trip through Purewood Forest with the Mayor Stinkypants and the Backyardigans. After an intermission, the WonderPets once again proved that teamwork prevails as they journeyed into Wonderland, and Dora the Explorer, one of Nick Jr.'s signature characters, closed the four stories with Leap Into Fairyland a story that found Boots cast under a sleep spell and sadly enough, Benny the Bull nowhere to be found.
Throughout the show, the cast was top notch. Their singing was strong - even if it was aided with a backing music and vocal track. The choreography was impressive in that the actors danced in the same manner the animated characters do on TV. I know nothing about dance routines, but the fact that the dancing seemed more so an extension of the characters than simply a "cue up a big dance number" sort of production, it worked well and seamlessly. The actors moved about the stage with impish glee like the characters they portrayed.
The sets were faithful to the shows' animation and helped bring the stories to life. The show concluded with a cast version of The Isley Brothers' Shout! That even got our three-year-old up to make some shy dance moves of his own. And during the show, despite the fact that we were in the first row of the balcony, he waved at the Wonder Pets as if they not only could see him but as if they knew him.
Our eight-year old, who has now graduated to Nickelodeon shows leaving Nick Jr. behind, went with us and was even pleased with the show. "The acting of the characters was pretty good," but he added with an unusual deduction, "Moose A. Moose's voice did not sound right; he must have had a virus or something." Nevertheless, Peej Mele, who played Moose, had the character's mannerisms mastered. Audra Rizzo, who played Ming Ming, however, did a super impression of the beloved duck with the lisp.
If you missed tonight's show, you can catch it again tomorrow at 10:30 A.M. and tomorrow night at 7:00 P.M before the touring show heads to Charlotte. Tickets range from $13.00-$37.00. Buying a cheap seat will cost you about as much as a new Nick Jr. DVD, but unlike the repeated plays of the same old episodes you get with that, Storytime Live! Is a special, one-time experience that your kids are sure to love and remember.
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