'Shopkins' 'til you drop : Toy characters come to life onstage
FARGO—After Black Friday and Cyber Monday, some parents may be looking for a respite from shopping. If they are parents of kids from ages 4 to 10, they won't likely find much rest this Sunday, when "Shopkins Live!" takes over the Fargo Theatre for two afternoon performances.
The show is a staged take on the popular animated series, which itself is a spin-off on the tiny toys, based on grocery store items like Kooky Cookie and Slick Breadstick. The live version pairs the items with human characters—Shoppies—like Jessicake, Cocolette and Rainbow Kate, all attending the Fun Food and Fashion Fair in Shopville.
Kids can have a hard enough time shopping, so how do they hold up during a 90-minute—with intermission—performance?
"When we were in rehearsals, I wondered the same thing. This is a long show for kids," says Mychele Lebrun, who plays the optimistic Rainbow Kate. "The kids love it. They either sit still and watch the whole time, or we highly encourage dancing in the aisles. A lot of kids will dance and sing along the whole time ... It's not a quiet audience. We encourage them to cheer and sing and dance in the aisles, and I think that helps a lot."
She says after more than 50 shows, she can't recall seeing a kid in the crowd who has lost interest.
Part of the appeal of the live show is the pop music, some of it based on recent radio hits. One of the showtunes, "Shop It Up," sounds an awful lot like Taylor Swift's smash, "Shake It Off."
That was intentional, Lebrun says, to make the numbers identifiable.
"There are definitely a couple of songs that have been influenced or inspired by (contemporary hits). That's a positive thing," she says.
Lebrun says the show has a positive message that isn't just about retail therapy. In the show Jessicake over-extends herself in an attempt to be involved in all of the events.
"She realizes it's more important to stay true to your friends and be supportive of community, be kind and considerate," Lebrun says.
The 24-year-old actress grew up on Disney movies and liking the girl power of the Powerpuff Girls, something she sees in "Shopkins Live!"
"Absolutely. The whole thing is girl power," she says, explaining that it's a group of friends going through a day helping each other reach goals.
Lebrun was bitten by the acting bug as a young teeneager growing up in Ottawa, Ontario, when she saw "Wicked." She was so taken with the musical that she saw it two more times in its run there and by the end knew she was going to be an actress. It's an experience she tries to pay back every time she takes the stage.
"I think I've done my job beautifully if one kid leaves that day and thinks, 'Wow, I would love to do that.' To me, that's enough," she says.
If You Go
What: Shopkins Live!
When: 1 and 4 p.m., Sunday
Where: Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway N.
Info: Tickets are $29, $39 and $100. jadepresents.com, (866) 300-8300.