Tuesday, April 18, 2000

A conversation with Barney

TV's cuddly T-Rex is coming to town

BY Linnea Eschenlohr
Enquirer contributor

        He's adored by millions of children around the world. His TV show, Barney & Friends, is No. 2 with 2- to 5-year-olds nationally. (Arthur is No. 1.)

        He's Barney, that 6-foot, grinning, green-spotted, purple dinosaur, who sings and dances for preschoolers on PBS (weekdays at 8 a.m. on Channels 54 and 16; 12:30 on Channel 54; 3 p.m. on Channels 48 and 54, 6 p.m. Channel 14; Sunday at 8 and 10 a.m. on Channel 48).

  What: Barney's Musical Castle, a live 70-minute stage show. Sharing the stage with Barney, BJ and Baby Bop will be the Wiggles.
  When: 7 p.m. today, Wednesday and Friday, 2:30 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
  Where: Firstar Center.
  Tickets: $11-$26 at the Firstar box office, Ticketmaster outlets or call 562-4949. Discounts available for today, Wednesday and Thursday performances only.
        This week he's performing at the Firstar Center along with his friends Baby Bop, B.J., and special guests, the Australian group the Wiggles. Barney's Musical Castle is his second musical stage show tour.

        After quizzing moms and their preschoolers at the Children's Museum of Cincinnati, the kids came up with their most pressing questions for the Purple One.

        Favorite foods, family life, and the ups and downs of life on the road were what these 3- and 4-year-olds wanted to know about.

        Barney never steps out of character for an interview, so use your imagination. Put these responses in “The Voice” that little ones and their parents know only too well.

        Question: Barney, what kind of dinosaur are you exactly?

        Answer: Well, I'm a Tyrannosaurus Rex, although you don't see many of the purple ones running around these days.

        Q: Aren't those the fierce and scary ones?

        A: Yes, I am like the ones in Jurassic Park except I think they were just very good actors. We're not very fierce at all. I do think they should have had more singing and dancing in that movie.

        Q: Where do your mom and dad live?

        A: Well, since I'm an imaginary dinosaur, I don't really have a mom and dad. I guess my mom would be Sheryl Leach, the lady who created me. I like to think of her that way anyway.

        Q: How old are you?

        A: My scientist friends tell me that I'm more than 200 million years old. I like to think I'm not a day over 700,000 years old. I think dancing and singing in the show helps keep me in shape.

        Q: Do you have any favorite foods?

        A: Oh, yes, I absolutely have favorite foods — dinosaurs like to eat a lot! I especially like fruits and veggies — rutabaga is one of my favorites. Let's do the rutabaga rumble!

        I also especially like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I like mine with a nice tall glass of icy cold milk, too. Just talking about it makes me really hungry right now.

        Q: How many brothers and sisters do you have?

        A: I don't have any brothers and sisters. Baby Bop and BJ are the closest thing I have to a family, but they are brother and sister to each other.

        Q: What kind of dinosaurs are Baby Bop and B.J.?

        A: They are protoceratops, which is a very early form of dinosaur. That means “before horns.” BJ looks a lot like a Triceritops, but he doesn't have the horn.

        Q: Barney is a big hero to lots of little kids. Why do you think that is?

        A: I think for one thing I like a lot of the same things they do, like learning about my ABCs, colors and shapes. When you use your imagination, you can be anywhere and do anything. If somebody is talking to you about using your imagination and following your dreams, that's a good person to look up to.

        Q: Do you, Barney, have any heroes?

        A: I have lots of heroes! They live all over the country. Anybody who gives someone encouragement is a hero.

        Q: Tell me about the castle that you will be exploring in your new show?

        A: It's a musical castle, not your ordinary castle at all. The whole adventure begins when we are building sand castles with some new friends. We sing nursery rhymes and some brand-new songs that no one has ever heard.

        Q: What's it like to tour on the road?

        A: Well, you start very early and end very late. I have to eat right, lay off the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches a bit. I usually just go right to bed after a show.

        The greatest part is getting to visit my old friends in the cities where I've been before and getting to meet so many new ones.

        The hardest part is finding accommodations big enough to suit me. I lot of hotels have narrow doorways that I can't fit through. It's especially hard when I try to sit down in the airplane's coach section with my tail.

        Q: Is Barney a boy or a girl?

        A: I'm a boy.

        Q: Where did you learn to sing?

        A: I haven't taken any formal lessons, I just started doing it. That's one of the ways you get good at discovering the talents you have.

        Q: On your show, you just appear when the kids want to play with you. How do you know when they want you to appear?

        A: That's imagination! Imagination is what makes me come into their world. I like to tell everyone that when I leave a town, I can always come back in their imagination.

        Q: Why do you like to give hugs so much?

        A: That's easy! I love my friends! I like hugs, too. If I were there with you, I would probably give you a really big hug now. (Uh, thanks, Barney.)

        Q: Why do you sing everything?

        A: Singing is a good way to remember a lot of things. Besides that, it's a lot of fun, too. I like to sing the “I Love You” song, and songs about brushing your teeth and picking up your toys. We even have a song about having good manners.

        I think songs make it fun to remember the things we're supposed to do.

        Q: Any parting advice for your young fans?

        A: Remember to keep on using your imagination. I love them very much and when I do come to Cincinnati,I hope to see them at the show.


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