Kiddie crazes have a way of becoming preteen cultural cartels. Witness Pokémon -- it's a card game, no it's a TV show, no it's a movie! Or what about Rugrats? It's a TV show, no it's a comic strip, no it's a movie! The list goes on and on, from Harry Potter to every halfway popular comic book character of the last 50 years. Kids are natural consumers, since it's not their money that they're spending. Thus the cardinal rule of kid-dom is that a successful TV show will be a successful movie, book, action figure, ad infinitum.
That brings us to that family of lovable aardvarks known as the Reads. Mama and Papa Read have two kids, D.W. and Arthur. Anyone with children ages 2 to 13 knows Arthur. He's an eight-year-old aardvark who counts a rabbit, a rat, a cat, and a moose among his closest acquaintances.
Marc Brown created Arthur 25 years ago as a children's book; Arthur now boasts a TV show, a host of toys, and most recently, a live production. Yes, 40 million books sold and a top-rated TV series were not enough for this up-and-coming eater of ants. Arthur: A Live Adventure opens Wednesday at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts at 7 p.m. The story is one of dire loss and tragedy followed by triumph and self-discovery; just before a big test, Arthur loses his lucky pencil, only to realize it is more important to have faith in himself than in luck. (It's kinda like Dumbo but without the elephant torture and ethnically stereotyped birds.)
The 90-minute show includes jokes, audience participation, and catchy songs that dip lightly into reggae, rock, swing, country, and hip-hop. You'd better get used to the tunes; your kids will be singing them again and again once the Arthur CD comes out. And the Arthur radio hour. And the Arthur music video...
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