Koba Entertainment have helped bring to life, and to the stage, some of the most adored properties in children’s television, including The Backyardigans, Dora the Explorer, Toopy and Binoo, Mike the Knight, Max & Ruby, and Franklin the Turtle among others.
Returning to St. John’s for two performances on April 8th at the Holy Heart Theatre, Koba brings one of its most popular adaptations with Nickelodeon’s Bubble Guppies Live! Ready to Rock.
Ahead of what we’re sure is to be an evening of fun for the whole family, The Herald caught up with Koba Entertainment’s Producing Artistic Director Patti Caplette for an exclusive Q&A.
Q: How do you and the Koba team go about adapting a beloved franchise like Bubble Guppies or Toopy and Binoo for the stage? It must require a great deal of time and effort.
A: What I like to do is emerge myself with the property. That means watching way too much tv or videos of all the episodes and reading as much material on it as I can to really understand the characters and understand the storyline that have gone before. From there I try to create a similar scenario but what would work for the stage, because the stage is very different than a television property. There are these rules of theatre, of gravity, of time and distance. That takes a lot of scrutiny. I look at how we’ll present the actual characters. If they’re dragons that are thirty times the size of the one character then how are we going to do that? There are lots of questions to answer, so with the help of skillful costuming and video projections we kind of manage to put it all together in about a year.
Q: You must be quite pleased with the reception of the adaptations you and Koba have pulled off. They’ve become huge favourites here in Newfoundland and Atlantic Canada.
A: I really am. Truthfully the theatre is my temple, my church, and I really want to be able to bring high quality productions for families with young children to be able to introduce them to the world of theatre and hopefully go on to become the audiences and patrons of the future. It really is my home base.
Q: How is it adapting a product that is directly targeted at small children for something as complex as the stage, in the sense that you have to try to balance the line between a great production and keeping the attention of your younger audience? I imagine that being tricky.
A: It’s a duality. We tend to create the time-line of 30 minutes and then an intermission and another 30 minutes. That seems to be able to fulfill the storyline and the songs without being too taxing and having people rush out of the theatre because someone is falling asleep. On the other hand we have to make it engaging for half of the audience who are adults. They have to be able to appreciate the acting ability, the singing ability and the set designs and all of the production elements that go into a production like this.
Q: It seems to me that as the stories and the brand for these particular characters continue to grow you will have ample stories and creative inspiration to keep these productions going for years to come.
A: It’s always a tricky thing with popular brands and popular characters because we are dependent on their ratings on television. These kind of properties, they come and go very quickly. There are some that are tried and true and will stay on forever, but there’s always a new one right around the corner. At Koba we really try to stay current.
Q: For this forthcoming Bubble Guppies show, what can our young viewers expect? I’d imagine much of the same fun and excitement that you guys always bring?
A: The Bubble Guppies are a real faovurite of mine because the costuming is very clever. Of course guppies don’t walk, they don’t have legs, they have tails. They kind of swim around the stage with some very clever choreography. This particular production is filled with awesome music. The writer Mike Reuben out of New York City is just a master at creating songs that both kids and adults are going to love.
Q: I’d imagine with an audience of mostly children the smiles on their faces and the amazed reactions must be a moral victory in itself.
A: It really is, and I look for that in the shows, when I come out in the audience and I look around and study what the audiences are reacting to and what the comments are in the lobby. It’s very important for me to really try to get into the audience at every given stage.
Tickets for Bubble Guppies Live! Ready to Rock are available at the Holy Heart Theatre box office and online at http://www.sonicconcerts.com/bubble-guppies-live