The creators of Yo Gabba Gabba bring their colorful preschool show to the Orpheum on Saturday, February 22nd. Readers tell us the show is a lot fun. To get ready, we spoke with the co-creator of this popular Nickelodeon show, Christian Jacobs.
How does creating your live show differ from the one kids watch on TV?
There's more work involved creating the TV show because with theatre, you build one show and then do it again and again. You're tweaking it while you're on the road, but mostly its the same thing each night. With the series, each episode takes more hours, creating the set, the props, and the storyline. But don't get me wrong, it's all fun. The kids love it when DJ Lance steps onto the stage. They go nuts!
How has the show evolved over the past three years?
It's less of a grab bag of segments and has more narrative now. Both Scott and myself played in bands and we knew wanted the show to have a variety feel but also be inclusive so parents and kids could watch it together.
You are both dads and have four children each. Do they help out with the show?
Co-creator Scott Schultz' kids helped as we developed the show. Many of our ideas came indirectly from watching our chidlren. The first season, the show was a bit more frenetic, with segments not relating much to each other. We thought that was a lot like the way kids play, moving randomly from one activity to the next. Under the influence of Nickelodeon, whose producers know a thing or two about preschoolers, we've developed our characters and have more of a story line.
You've had some great musical groups on your shows. Which ones stand out for you?
We heard that Beyonce's sister, Solange Knowles, wanted to be on the show. We didn't know much about her, but when she came on, she was incredible. It was a great performance. She really surprised me because I wasn't familiar with her work, but she's super talented, just like her sister.
And MGMT, those guys are great. They came up with this idea to be Space Vikings and they played in paint. It was one of my favorites segments because they were so collaborative.
You do realize one of them is from Memphis, right?
No, I didn't know that! (In fact, Andrew VanWyngarden is a White Station graduate. And his dad, Bruce VanWyngarden, is the editor of Memphis Flyer, our sister publication.)