[ATTENDED: November 23, 2012] Phineas and Ferb
Phineas and Ferb is one of the smartest, funniest kids shows around. It’s a show that I would watch by myself if I didn’t have a queue of things that I can’t watch with my kids as well. This live show has been bouncing around the area for months. It has played at least four locations in NY and NJ that I thought about going to, but I wasn’t really sure if it was worth the expense and effort. Then, it finally came to the State Theatre, with a mail flier that saved us 20%. Hard to say no.
So this is a Disney production. This means, among other things, that they take care of you while you wait for the show to start–they had a dancer ask questions and warm us all up. It was fun. They also had good production numbers and a very talented, anonymous cast.
Okay so the TV show is about two boys (with crazy heads) who are on summer vacation. They are looking for something awesome to do on this particular day and they wind up getting involved in some preposterously over the top plan (building a rollercoaster in their yard, creating a time machine, etc). It’s not like the show explains anything technical about how they do it–it’s not that kind of smart–but it really encourages creativity. Their older sister Candace is always trying to get them in trouble for their schemes, but she always fails (but they’re never really mean to her back, which I like).
The other aspect of the show is Perry the Platypus. Perry is their pet. But, unbeknownst to the boys, he is also a secret agent who is bent on stopping the evil Dr Doofenschmirtz, the evil doctor who creates some kind of “-inator” machine every episode which is designed to cause some kind of destruction in the tri-state area.
So how can this over the top cartoon translate to the stage?
Well, it starts as a cartoon, with a very funny joke about them crashing into the screen as they try to get to the stage. When they finally arrive on stage (how long has that slide been there?) they turn out to be people with big prosthetic heads (which are kind of creepy actually). So today, the last day of summer, they are going to do one big final thing to really end up the summer well. They decide (since they have an audience) to put on a show. All the characters from the show are there to contribute to the show (and the boys make a machine that helps to create what they need for the show).
The bulk of the second act is songs (there are songs in the TV show but far more here). And the songs are silly and catchy (especially “Squirrels in My Pants”). I didn’t realize that most of the songs are from the show already, which I guess is fun for the kids who know every episode.
The Perry plot line has the evil doctor wishing he could sing show tunes on stage (and he busts out a few classics). But since he has no talent, he has created the audience controlinator which will make the audience think he is amazing (six girls were brought on stage to show how it works, and they clearly had fun up there). Perry and Dr D fight elaborately (Perry’s costume of aqua velvet was awesome) including a brief light saver battle that Clark loved.
The thing that I couldn’t help wonder throughout the show was how they did the voices. The characters sounded exactly the same as on the show. So were the voices prerecorded? Does that mean that everyone was lip synching? That would be easy enough for a song, but how would you lip synch to dramatic pauses and such? Or the actors were playing the recorded voices sound? That seems really impractical–how would that work even? Or, the on stage actors simply did a great job mimicking the show. How? None of these seem likely. So how id they do it?
I admit I didn’t enjoy the show as much as I do the TV show. It was fun and funny, but it was more song and dance than actual plot (which is fine as that’s what kids like). And in fairness, the live show isn’t about plot, it’s about getting families to have fun. And, the actors were all phenomenal. The person playing Perry was great (there was no programme so I have no idea who anyone was). And the actors playing Candace and Jeremy (who had prosthetic pieces on their heads rather than whole prosthetic heads actually had their mouths free (to lip sync or speak or whatever). I was also really impressed at how well they synced up the video screen to the live action–like when they swung golf clubs and animated golf balls fired on the projection screen. The timing was perfect every time–I wonder how they did it. [I’m not suggesting that it was rocket science, I just don’t know how it’s done].
The whole show was a good time. The kids really enjoyed it and so did I. And now that I know what these live Disney shows are like, I probably don’t need to see another one.
Hey, where’s Perry?