Sunday, January 16, 2000

Fun 'Arthur' leaves young fans singing

Enquirer contributor

        You'll say “Hey! What a wonderful kind of show” ... I mean “day.” That's if you catch one of the last two performances of Arthur's Live Adventure today at the Aronoff Center, downtown.

        The show opened to a crowd of excited children on Wednesday evening. Less than two hours later they spilled out of the theater skipping and singing. It was clear they weren't disappointed.

        Fourteen characters from the top-rated PBS program make their stage debut with this live performance, including Binky, Muffy, Francine, the Bionic Bunny, and of course Arthur and DW. Together they sing, dance and act their way through this colorful, 90-minute performance.

Everything familiar
        Each character's oversized head is remarkably accurate to the faces children have grown to love. Not only do the performers look like the characters from TV, they sound like them, too. That's because the performance is prerecorded in the same voices heard on TV.

        The costumes are happily predictable, too, all the way down to Arthur's trademark yellow sweater, blue jeans, red tennis shoes, and DW's pink dress and striped shirt. Unfortunately Arthur fans will already be familiar with the story line, titled “Arthur's Lucky Pencil.” A never-before-seen adventure would have been a refreshing change from the stories aired over and over on TV each day.

        Unique to this performance, however, is all the singing and dancing that keeps the audience clapping, shouting and dancing, too.

        The producers have done a good job of keeping their audience interested and involved. During one set change, Mr. Ratburn leads everyone in a clever round of Simon Says. Arthur asks for help from the audience each time he unleashes the powers of his lucky pencil. Another surprise: Confetti and streamers are released into the crowd — twice.

A message
        Just as parents have come to expect from Arthur's books and TV programs, this performance drove home two important messages for children: Practice makes perfect, and believe in yourself.

        The show ends with Arthur getting a rare “A+” on Mr. Ratburn's test, in spite of the absence of his lucky pencil. You'll walk away feeling warm and fuzzy, humming “Hey, what a wonderful kind of show” ... I mean “day.”

        Arthur continues at noon and 4 p.m. today, Aronoff Center. Tickets, $15.50-$25.50 at Aronoff Center box office or call 241-7469.


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