BWW Interviews: PHINEAS AND FERB's 'Phineas', Adrian Baez
For all fans of Disney's Phineas and Ferb cartoon, Disney's PHINEAS AND FERB: THE BEST LIVE TOUR EVER! is coming to the Time Warner Cable Arena on Sunday, April 1, 2012 for 2 performances at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at http://www.timewarnercablearena.com
The cartoon, which debuted in 2007, has a large following. It's a fast paced musical series, created by Dan Povinmere and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh. The episodes center around two brothers, Phineas Flynn and his English stepbrother, Ferb Fletcher on their summer vacation. Hijinks abound, when their pet platypus, Perry leads a double life as Agent P. to foil Dr. Doofenshmitz's evil plans.
I caught up with Adrian Baez who plays Phineas. He was very affable and exceedingly similar to Phineas' character.
LAW: Where does the live tour have you now?
AB: We are now in North Charleston, South Carolina.
LAW: Do you wear a costume head in the show?
AB: A head? Yea, I do.
LAW: Is the costume hot under the lights?
AB: It's like wearing cargo shorts on a warm day outside, it's fine.
LAW: How does the mouth work on the puppet?
AB: I move the head to the music, or the dialog.
LAW: Why do you think the producers cast you for the show?
AB: Well, I went to the open call specifically for the Phineas and Ferb show. I did the first dance combination and they cut people. I did the second dance combination and Fred Tallaksen, [choreographer] asked me to stay behind and pretend to be Phineas. I greeted the audience and then stopped to ask, "Where's Perry?" That's his pet platypus. In every episode of the TV series Phineas asks, "Where's Perry?" And Perry is off being a secret agent. I said, "You know what we are going to do today? We are going to build the biggest roller coaster and twist it around buildings."
LAW: Did you ever take dance, or mime lessons?
AB: I took theater and chorus in high school. I was in plays "Annie Get your Gun," "Crazy for You" and "Charlotte's Web." I also learned improvisation. I never had formal dance training. I danced a little in high school. Sometimes it takes me a little while to learn a dance combination, but I get it.
LAW: How long have you been on tour?
AB: Since mid-August, about 30 weeks.
LAW: Was this your first tour?
AB: I toured internationally in Disney Live! Winnie the Poo, Playhouse Disney Live! and Disney Live! presents Three Classic Fairy Tales.
LAW: What was the best experience you had on the road?
AB: Getting to see all of the different cultures. I walked across the Great Wall of China and zip lined down. That was great!
LAW: What was the worst experience?
AB: Well, probably being in the cold, really, really cold. One tour I was on, took me to Russia. It was only light outside four hours a day with frigid temperatures and dark… It was hard to function.
LAW: Where has the Phineas and Firb tour taken you?
AB: To all the four corners of North America. I've been to Vancouver, Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles. Texas and all throughout Florida.
LAW: Have you found a difference in the way audiences react to you, depending on where you go?
AB: Oh yes… Yea, it's so interesting from state to state. Sometimes the audience is screaming and sometimes [you can hear] crickets, although they're enjoying it. In Columbus, Ohio and in New Orleans, they were very loud.
LAW: Were you familiar with the characters before you auditioned for the show?
AB: I watched since 2007. It was my favorite show. I loved the way the writers wrote it. Adults love it, children love it. It's entertaining with fast paced humor, in a good way.
LAW: How often do you get back home?
AB: If I get a few days off I fly back. When we were in Florida, I stayed home and drove to work. It was nice.
LAW: How long will you be on the road?
AB: 31 weeks.
LAW: You have seen so much of the country, after the tour, where would you like to live?
AB: I am happy living in the Orlando area. The Los Angeles weather is nice. I am debating moving to California. It's hard to move.
LAW: How much do you travel per week?
AB: Usually we drive 6 hours, or less between cities and we perform in a few [cities] on the weekends.
LAW: What is your character, Phineas like?
AB: He's an imaginative kid,… a happy character. He would say, "Ferb I know what we're going to do today…" Every day of summer is better creating.
LAW: What are your character's best traits?
AB: Phineas' upbeat energy and thinking of something better.
LAW: And what are his worst traits?
AB: In the cartoon, a couple of times, his friend didn't want to create anything. Phineas has to create something, or he doesn't know what to do.
LAW: What part of the live show do you like the best?
AB: I really enjoy one number, "Busted Tophats and Batons." It's a catchy tune, something you can tap your feet to. I love the number, "Squirrel in My Pants." It's funny to see Phineas' big sister, Candace, after getting the squirrels angry; they attack her. She shakes her bum with cool dance moves to get rid of the squirrels.
LAW: What is the age range of children who watch the cartoon on television?
AB: I'm not a kid, I'm 28, and I love the cartoon. College kids and grandparents love it. I see middle-aged adults enjoying the live show, singing the songs, and they're hollering more than the kids.
LAW: Why do you think the cartoon is so popular?
AB: It appeals to modern day families. Phineas and Ferb are stepbrothers. There's an exchange student from India. It has fast paced energy. It's hilarious the way the writers write the dialog. There are innuendos for adults and humor for the kids. It's for all ages. It's such a modern show.
LAW: Tell me more about the live show.
AB: It has 14 songs from the TV show along with a "Bollywood" number for their friend, the exchange student. There's a "disco" number with golf ball balloons, and the Dr. chooses contestants to come on stage to dance. Who wouldn't want to have a close encounter with Dr. Doofenshmirtz?
LAW: Will you be going out for other shows and Broadway when this tour is over?
AB: I would love to be in a Broadway Production one day. In 16 days, the tour takes me to New York City and while I'm there, I'm going to see "Newsies" opening on Broadway.