As the first animated, bilingual Latina heroine to go mainstream, Dora the Explorer is about as iconic as kids’ TV characters come. It’s surprising that this is her debut live outing.
Since we don’t have cable, I’d never actually watched a whole episode of Dora the Explorer even though I’d seen clips and could definitely spot Dora in a crowd. But I wasn’t sure what to expect from the show or how the babes would react to seeing her in flesh (toned) form.
Dora the Explorer Live!: Search for the City of Lost Toys (try saying that in Spanish!) takes us on an all-singing, all-dancing adventure with Dora and her friends, including guest appearance from cousin Diego.
With the help of Dora’s trusty backpack and drop-down map, we navigate through places like the number pyramid and the mixed-up jungle to find the city where Dora and her buddies’ lost toys are stashed.
Along the way, little ones in the audience were urged to help Dora solve puzzles, repeat in Spanish or to wave the paper stars handed to them at the start of the show.
As always at children’s theatre, I spent a lot of time watching the faces of the kids around me. Pretty much every child was totally swept up in the story — even my 6-year-old, who’s a bit cool for this type of show, was happily waving his flag. My 3-year-old was saucer-eyed from start to finish and I felt the show was perfectly pitched for his age group.
However, neither of my boys were losing it like one girl sitting behind me. Every time the baddie Swiper the fox appeared, she would leap up and start yelling the catchphrase ‘SWIPER NO SWIPING!’ over and over at the top of her lungs. Her mum kept apologising for her daughter screaming in my ear, but I had to laugh. It certainly heightened the atmosphere!
Dora the Explorer is a sure-fire hit for toddlers and pre-schoolers, whether or not they’re fans of the TV cartoon. The costumed characters are cute and cuddly (rather than creepy as in some cases) the set’s colourful and there are lovely touches like bubbles spraying down at the end. Vámonos!
The After Party
We attended the after party where Dora and Diego came to hang out with the kids and VIP guests. I chatted with Radio 1 DJ Sara Cox who I’d spotted in the theatre earlier with her minis and she described the show as ‘good fun’ and also ‘nice and short’!
It was also lovely to catch up with biz mama and former The Apprentice star Saira Khan whom I hadn’t seen since we were both judges at a Baby Loves Disco danceathon. She was there with her son Zac and uber cute little girl Amara — some of you might remember her emotional journey to adopt Amara filmed in a recent BBC documentary. Saira said they all enjoyed the show.
I also bumped into Natalie Cassidy (Sonia off Eastenders) and her daughter Eliza, sweet in matching pink lace, who sums up their experience in our On the Spot snapshot below.
On the Spot
Natalie Cassidy and daughter Eliza, 23 months
‘I thought the show was great actually. Eliza loved it. We go to a lot of shows like this and recently we saw The Gruffalo which was brilliant, but there were moments where Eliza drifted off. But Dora was just the right length with the interval and the characters were so well done, it was as if they’d come straight off the telly!’
Dora the Explorer Live is playing at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, W1 (Mon-Sun, 10.30am, 12pm & 3.30pm, confirm times on web site) for a limited run until Sep 16 before going on tour nationwide in 2013. Tickets also available at www.nimaxtheatres.com or www.ticketmaster.com