“Blue’s Clues Live!”

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
January 23, 2000

Think of “Blue’s Clues Live!” as the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” for the preschool set.

But instead of getting dressed up like transvestites and throwing things at the screen, the tiny tots at the Rosemont Theatre on Friday night clutched their stuffed animals and shouted out answers to puzzles as the performers acted out a charming stage adaptation of the popular Nickelodeon children’s show.

As they entered the theater, each child was given a small notebook. Then as Steve (played by Northwestern University alum Thomas Mizer) figured out the clues that his precocious puppy, Blue, left for him, the kids–most too young to write–drew the clues in their books.

An interactive show, the hapless Steve was in much need of the audience’s guidance, especially when he couldn’t find Blue’s clues (get it?), which were easily identifiable to the audience by a huge, lit paw print. The kids would scream at him to look left . . . no . . . the other left! And when Steve finally saw the imprint, they would let out a collective sigh.

Dressed in Steve’s trademark Charlie Brown-style striped shirt, Mizer had the unenviable task of entertaining a crowd not yet familiar with the term “polite applause.” They also weren’t familiar enough with modern-day comedy to realize that his mannerisms were equal parts Pee-wee Herman and Ed Grimley, with a little bit of Hans and Franz thrown in.

What they did clue in on, though, was Mizer’s strong singing voice and affable stage presence, which really did make it seem like he was one of them, rather than a stuffy old know-it-all adult.

There really wasn’t any one theme running through the production, which is probably wise when dealing with an audience with such a short attention span. But there were some sophisticated elements that surprised me–in a good way.

One sequence featured Steve flying through the air–Peter Pan style–and encountering a posse of talking planets that explained how they were all different from one another. These kids were smart. When Steve “forgot” Uranus’ unique quality, they shouted out to him that “it spins on its side!”

You just know they were dying to add, “Dummy!” But not in front of mom and dad.

After the show, kids were given candy as they left the theater. I doubt that sugar was something they needed. “Blue’s Clues Live!” was all the high they needed that night.

Recommended. Runs through Jan. 30 at Rosemont Theatre, 5400 N. River Rd., Rosemont. Tickets: $15.75-$27.75. For information, call (312) 559-1212.

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