Storytime Live! — Interview with Director Sam Scalimoni

Posted on April 12, 2010 at 3:44 pm

KaiLanStorytime0624.jpgSam Scalimoni is the director of Nickeoldeon’s new traveling “Storytime Live” show, starring its most popular characters, including Dora and Diego, the Backyardigans, the Wonder Pets, Kai-Lan, and more.
What is it like to create a show for the most enthusiastic audience in the world, pre-schoolers and their families?
We thought we knew what we were in store for, but we really didn’t know until we saw it in front of an audience. Last week we were at Radio City Music Hall and to see 6000 families come in and just cheer for all the characters — the young performers that we have definitely felt like rock stars.
How do you hold their attention? They’re a very squirmy bunch and very excited!
The great thing about our show as opposed to those in the past is that we have four different stories. So it’s like four mini-musicals of about 15 minutes long. And between them we have Moose and Zee from Nick, Jr. coming out and play puzzles with the audience and help them guess what’s coming up next. So they’re constantly being engaged and entertained with something new happening all the time, and being led through it, entertained and educated at the same time.
They’ve taken four of the most popular character groups from the Nickelodeon stories. And they’re very fun and clever and fast-moving and they never talk down to them. We like to think of our show as the first theatrical experience for young people. We have some very clever writing and parents have as good a time as the young people.CastStorytime0581-7.jpg
I approach this like any other project. It is about story-telling and it’s about clarity. We kept the focus on making it clear to anyone, not just young people. We use our paint-brushes, the costumes, the scenery, even the lighting to show you what’s happening next and where your focus should be. And I find young people have a better sense of reality than adults. They know the theater is a pretend kind of place. We have some fantasy — a dragon, a witch who flies, a monkey king who flies, a dragon that turns into a prince — we have those kind of thing but they are done in a theatrical way and the young people are right there with you.
You mentioned the costume design — what were some of the challenges?
The costume design is challenging because the characters are so well known and the kids want them to look familiar. But the actors are human and we did not want them to have big cartoon-y heads. And we wanted them to be comfortable and be able to do all of the movement they needed to do. So we were working with five different creative teams from Nickelodeon to get the essence of the character — real people and monkeys and puppetry — and make sure it was practical for what we wanted to do on stage.
We had very specific requirements. It very much reflects our audience, a lot of ethnic diversity, people who were tumblers, who could do the flying and all of that. But most important was we needed people who could be themselves, very honest performers, none of that phony kind of acting as opposed to really being a person so the young kids could connect to them.
Is there a moment that really gets a big reaction from the crowd at every performance?
When the monkey king flies from nowhere, he just appears, and it is very exciting. And Dora makes a magical transition into a princess and it always gets a big “Oooo.” And our finale is so exciting because it’s the first time Nickelodoen has let us mix the characters from all the shows, to see them all together in a really exciting dance number, the kids are all dancing in the aisles.
The Touring Schedule — Dates and Locations:

April 6-7, 2010
Norfolk, VA
Chrysler Hall
April 9-11, 2010
Memphis, TN
Orpheum Theatre
April 13, 2010
Ashland, KY
Paramount Arts Center
April 14, 2010
Salem, VA
Salem Civic Center
April 16-18, 2010
Washington, DC
Warner Theatre
April 20, 2010
Youngstown, OH
Covelli Centre
April 21-22, 2010
Saginaw, MI
Temple Theatre
April 23-25, 2010
Detroit, MI
Fox Theatre
April 28-29, 2010
Minneapolis, MN
State Theatre
April 30-May 1, 2010
Milwaukee, WI
Milwaukee Theatre
May 2-3, 2010
Joliet, IL
Rialto Square Theatre
May 6, 2010
Portland, ME
Merrill Auditorium
May 7-8, 2010
Providence, RI
Providence Performing Arts Center
May 9, 2010
Bangor, ME
Bangor Civic Auditorium
May 12-13, 2010
Nashville, TN
Tennessee Performing Arts Center
May 15-16, 2010
Raleigh, NC
Progress Energy Center
May 18-19, 2010
New Brunswick, NJ
State Theatre
MAY 20, 2010
Wilkes-Barre, PA
FM Kirby Center
May 22-23, 2010
Boston, MA
The Wang Theatre
June 1-2, 2010
Grand Rapids, MI
Devos Hall
June 4-6, 2010
Philadelphia, PA
Merriam Theater
June 8-9, 2010
Birmingham, AL
BJCC Concert Hall
June 11-13, 2010
Atlanta, GA
Fox Theatre
June 16-17, 2010
Columbus, OH
Palace Theatre
June 19-20, 2010
Baltimore, MD
Hippodrome Theatre
June 22-23, 2010
Louisville, KY
Robert S. Whitney Hall – The Kentucky Center
June 25-27, 2010
Charlotte, NC
Blumenthal PAC
July 7-8, 2010
Cincinnati, OH
Procter & Gamble Hall
July 9-11, 2010
Indianapolis, IN
Clowes Memorial Hall
July 13-14, 2010
Little Rock, AR
Robinson Center Music Hall
July 15, 2010
Tulsa, OK
Mabee Center
July 16-17, 2010
St. Louis, MO
Fox Theatre
July 18, 2010
Cape Girardeau, MO
Show Me Center
July 23-25, 2010
New Orleans, LA
Mahalia Jackson Theatre
July 27-28, 2010
Jacksonville, FL
Times Union Center
July 29, 2010
Tallahassee, FL
Leon County Civic Center
July 31-August 1, 2010
Tampa, FL
Tampa Bay PAC
August 4-5, 2010
Orlando, FL
Bob Carr PAC
August 6-8, 2010
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Broward Center
August 13-15, 2010
Houston, TX
Hobby Center for the Performing Arts
August 18-19, 2010
Austin, TX
Long Center
August 20-22, 2010
San Antonio, TX
Majestic Theatre
August 27-29, 2010
Grand Prairie, TX
Nokia Theatre
October 22-24, 2010
Seattle, WA
Paramount Theatre

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