BWW JR: Disney's Phineas and Ferb: The Best LIVE Tour Ever- Taking the Swirly Slide Straight to Broadway
It's been the better part of a year since the live tour of the Disney Channel's animated gem, the critically acclaimed "Phineas and Ferb," TV's #1 animated series among Tweens 9-14 for three years running, started it's over 80-city tour. And now, just in time for school break, they've hit the New York area. By the time this posts you'll probably be too late to catch the show at Madison Square Garden, but never fear. Phinas, Ferb, Agent P, Candace and the evil Dr. Doofenshmertz will be taking it tri-state, hitting Westchester, Staten Island, Long Island and New Jersey this month.
I took my eight year old and her die-hard-Phineas-and-Ferb-fan-friend to the Garden to catch the show this week and it was definitely an example of a kids' show that adults can enjoy too. Like the animated series, the live show offers humor for multiple generations plus enough musical theatre send-ups to pacify a Broadway-loving mom.
Rather than recreate a typical PH&F plotline, the live show is more of a mash-up of all your favorite moments. Using mixed media, the animated characters slide down a yellow swirly slide into the world of live theatre where they find themselves magically transformed into three dimensional performers with some weird cluster of people out front called an audience. (This kind of self-aware, tongue-in-cheek humor is what makes Phineas and Ferb the animated series such a hit with parents).
Bummed out about the start of another school year, the gang decide to make the most of the last day of summer by building an invention bigger, better and more amazing than ever. Before anyone can wonder "Hey! Where's Perry?" the pet platypus dons his Agent P fedora, and hilarious hijinks unfold as he battles Dr. Doofenshmirtz to save the Danville Tri-state area and audiences everywhere from the evil scientist's most havoc-wreaking scheme to date.
The performers are all accomplished dancers with some pretty amazing acrobatics thrown in. The pre-recorded audio track (don't shudder...it's children's theatre in a huge arena and some of the performers' giant head pieces don't even have mouths) demands a cast that is completely movement-oriented, so that even the spoken dialogue is carefully choreographed, allowing each actor to completely embody the style of his or her animated counterpart. Plus, the voices are those of the actual actors who voice the TV series.
"I listened to how she recorded the voice, and then added my interpretation to how the cartoon moves," says actress and dancer Emily Derrick (pictured right) who plays Isabella.
"I watched the cartoon a lot to get the physicality. Isabella has very cute poses so I wanted to make sure I stayed true to that....and of course whenever Phineas is around I just SWOON! We've really bonded over our love of the cartoon and our characters' love for each other".
Between the somewhat ingenious costumes designer Cynthia Nordstrom has the performers wearing (giant glasses that perfectly represent the bug-eyed expressions on the animated characters the actors personify) and the carefully executed movements, the characters really do appear to be the live embodiment of Phineas, Ferb and the rest of the cast. I guess that magic yellow slide works!
According to the official press release:
"Audiences will be whisked on a high-energy ride that is part action adventure and part rock concert, while they move it and shake it to a soundtrack of hit songs from the animated series, including "Gitchee Gitchee Goo," "Squirrels in My Pants," "Backyard Beach," "Busted," "Today is Gonna Be a Great Day," and "Summer Belongs to You." Familiar songs serve as a main ingredient in the plot, advancing the story from scene to scene, while taking on a whole new feel when fused with fresh, original choreography and inventive special effects".
To bring "Phineas and Ferb" from screen to stage, Producer Alana Feld assembled a creative team whose sense of humor, understanding of a live audience and ability to incorporate the essence of the characters seamlessly brings the show to life.
"I think the humor, the pacing and music from the TV show are what really lend themselves to being a great LIVE show," says Feld. "We're able to pace the show....it's very fast-paced with very quick cuts and the TV show is all smash cuts and for us that's obviously a challenge being live entertainment. But thanks to the music we're able to really pace the show. It's just over an hour but it just flies by."
And fly by it did. The two eight year olds I brought had a great time and probably could have stayed for more. I wish I had brought my Little Guy because this show would be perfect for an active three year old who's attention is best held by high-energy mash-ups and rapid fire scene changes.
Get to the Point, Mom!
- A live-action musical based on the stand-out Disney comedy series which follows Phineas Flynn and his stepbrother, Ferb Fletcher, as they set out to optimize every day of their 104-day summer vacation.
- Leaving MSG this week but picking up all over the tri-state area and beyond.
- Filled with enough adult-level humor and Musical Theatre send-ups to interest parents as well as kids.
- For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.PhineasandFerbLive.com
- It's only an hour. THIS IS KEY!
From This Author Erin Leigh Peck