Fringe Online 2020
Using Zoom to reach audiences virtually, Peter Marino creates an interactive 50 minutes of imaginative, high-energy fun that kids can join in with from home
Show Up Kids stars Sally the Silly Song Singer – who exits before the show begins, leaving actor Peter Michael Marino in the lead. He takes us on a story reminiscent of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series.
Pete stars in the show, performing from home in front of a colourful set made up of an orange curtain with various drapings. The children on the Zoom channel view each hold up a paper with their name and home city and are welcomed to the program. Pete continually interacts with the screen kids, cleverly muting and un-muting them when he wants their vocal participation. There are kids from across the U.S. viewing.
The originality is in the styling, more like Second City Improv for young people. Kids fill in the details of a made-up fairy tale – once upon a time…. Pete teaches the elements of a story writing- who, where, what, why, using photo visuals. The audience decides where to set the story. On the day I watched, suggestions included a train, an igloo, a basement, under water, a castle, and more. The sound and music cues are seamless and both underscore and enhance the story lines. There are lots of silly sound effects. Pete has a strong Broadway voice and is an effective comic actor. He delivers good physical comedy in a very confined space, quite slapstick, eliciting giggles from the young audience throughout the show.
Interactive kids shows work if the actor is engaging and understands what will catch and keep the interest of his or her audience. Pete employs the usual, successful, techniques to pull in the kids: a bit of slapstick comedy; costume pieces; boffo sound effects. Props are everyday items, like underwear, a glue stick, a spoon, a drink box, a straw, or a paper towel roll tube. It’s all about imagination. The extra value is his use of ordinary household objects so that after the performance, children can continue the imagination game with things that they find at home.
The show has a topical slant, which parents will appreciate. Reminders about safety with wearing of the mask and gloves and not touching your face are presented with comedy, but the message is clear.
By the end of the program, the kids are dancing, singing, and laughing. It’s a feel-good show. Even parents will leave with a smile – and gratitude to Pete for providing nearly an hour of delightful distraction.
The program is advertised as Age 3 to 10. I think it is too young for a 10-year-old, but will be a hit with kids up to about 6 or possibly 7 years old. And parents will definitely enjoy the mastery of not only the performance idiom but also the new digital format.
4:00 p.m. EST Friday, May 22
4:00 p.m. EST Saturday, May 23
4:00 p.m. EST Friday, May 29
4:00 p.m. EST Saturday, May 30
WHERE: computer or tablet (phones not recommended)
HOW MUCH: $12 for each family.