Nick Takes Blue Out For Live Tour

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Nickelodeon takes its popular preschool puppy out to playwith its Blue's Clues Live! stage tour, set to debut Oct. 29 in Wallingford,Conn.

The 75-city tour is slated for a yearlong run in major andsecondary markets across the country, including a 13-day appearance at New York'sRadio City Music Hall next April.

The Broadway-caliber stage production will borrowcharacters from the weekday Nick show Blue's Clues, including Blue, Steve,Mail Box and Tickety Tock. The theatrical version adds new characters created just for thestage, said Stuart Rosenstein, director of theatrical development for Nickelodeon andexecutive producer for the Blue's Clues Live! tour.

For example, the stage curtain is a character named CurtAnn, who talks to the kids in the audience as they walk in. "It'll be a bigsurprise for the kids," Rosenstein said.

The curtain is one of several interactive features in thestage production. As they walk in, kids will receive a 'handy-dandy' notebook tofollow along with, just like the ones used to track clues on each episode of the TVseries.

The production is geared towards 2-to-7-year-old childrenand their parents, said Rosenstein. Even though 6- and 7-year-olds may no longer watch theTV show, he said, they may still have some nostalgia for the characters.

Blue's Clues co-creator Angela C. Santomero alsohelped script the stage play. As with the television episodes, the writers sought inputfrom parents and educators.

In research, parents said a live theatrical productionshould be new -- not a rehashed TV episode -- and should take the audience somewhere theyhaven't been. To that end, the dog Blue will appear in different forms: as a puppetin one scene and later, as a full-size actor in costume.

"We wanted to stretch the imagination andinteractivity of live theater," Rosenstein said.

Parents also wanted the stage production to feature a closeadaptation of Steve, as the television actor will not join the tour. "What isimportant about the actor who plays Steve are the mannerisms, the look and the feel,"Rosenstein said.

Although cable operators are constantly bombarded withaffiliate promotions, Rosenstein is urging local marketing and ad sales departments toparticipate in Blue's Clues Live! promotions.

"We target a family demo that's important tothem, and we can give them something tangible to offer subscribers and advertisers"in the form of free tickets and back-stage passes to meet Blue, Steve and the gang, saidRosenstein.

Jason Malamud, vice president of affiliate advertisingsales for Nickelodeon parent MTV Networks, said cable ad-sales reps can attract retailsponsors for the local event by sending parents to pick up tickets at promotionalpartners' businesses.

Bookstores, family-style restaurants, clothing stores --any venue that attracts young children shopping with their parents -- would make the mosteffective partners, Malamud suggested.

Blue's Clues is such a phenomenon that theidentity of the sponsors is almost irrelevant, he added. "Customers will go wherevernecessary just to latch on to the Nickelodeon brand," said Malamud.

The Blue's Clues tour is by no means the first time amade-for-Nickelodeon character has expanded beyond its TV roots. The network'spopular animated series Rugrats, aimed at a slightly older audience, had its ownstage run and also made its way to the big screen.