Friday, November 21, 2014

Yo Gabba Gabba Live!

Last Wednesday, Jonathan and I took Eden (our youngest daughter) and Justice (our goddaughter/her best friend) to see "Yo Gabba Gabba! Live!" here in Portland. 

We've been to a few of these sorts of kids' shows over the years: "Sesame Street Live," "Disney's The Little Mermaid on Ice," and last, but not least, "Barney Live," otherwise known as the Show That Must Not Be Named. Let me tell you, folks: after three long hours of purple purgatory, I understood completely why his singing is used by our armed forces as an instrument of war. 

As a direct result of the trauma that resulted from our wretched dinosaur overdose, we avoided similar shows for years. And so, this was the first stage show experience for Eden & Justice. To call them "excited" may be the understatement of the century.

So, what was "Yo Gabba Gabba Live" like? 

First and foremost, it was a reasonable length: about an hour and a half, plus an intermission. The perfect amount of time for the age range in question. 

Secondly, they didn't try to get creative with an unnecessarily-complicated plot like so many other live kids' shows insist upon doing. This was very much a concert rather than a play, which was evident in this year's theme: "Music is Awesome." 

DJ Lance Rock and the YGG characters sang popular songs from the show, such as "Party In My Tummy" and "Don't Bite Your Friends." They actively encouraged the kids and adults to get up on their feet and dance along. And almost without exception, they did! It was something to behold: enraptured children dancing in pure joy, all the while encouraging their parents and grandparents to stand up and "Get Your Sillies Out!"

In addition, they played games, such as "Hold Still" and "DJ Lance Says." During all that dancing & singing, a large screen on the backdrop played clips from the television show, including many adorable tots dancing their hearts out. Very cute.

Third, the lobby was set up nicely for the event with friendly people in YGG shirts talked with the kids and there were nice decorations that allowed for photo opportunities such as this one:

Our favorite part of the lobby set-up was a fun YGG bean-bag game for kids to play and win a YGG picture to color.

Fourth, the cast was incredibly friendly, even by children's performer standards. The characters frequently stopped to high-five the kids, and DJ Lance Rock himself came out into the audience to hug fans & pose for photos. Eden got both a hug and a handshake from DJ Lance, and it was the highlight of her night! 

Fifth, they didn't go overboard with the merchandise. Having taken Wren to three separate "American Idol" tours over the years and dealt with their theme-park-level sales, it was refreshing to see just the one booth selling t-shirts, toys and the like. We got both girls a Toodie stuffed doll and Eden also purchased a small bag of bracelets with her birthday money, saved for just this occasion. 

And finally, there was a little trip down memory lane for the parents at the show... 

We thought perhaps they would do the program's popular segment "Biz's Beat of the Day" via a video clip shown on the huge Jumbotron-esque screen behind the cast.

But to our delight, the Biz himself was in the house and performed live on stage! 

He taught a few birthday kids some basic beatboxing, then hit a DJ booth to "kick it up old-school." 

Just as he began to spin the Sugarhill Gang's "Jump On It" (thankfully, without the war-whoops), out comes 90's rap legend Rob Base!

Naturally, Biz then mixed in the famous sample from Base's big hit "It Takes Two." 

Kids all over the room were looking at their excited parents in awe. "You know who Biz is, Daddy?" I heard one flabbergasted little girl say, setting herself up for the inevitable Dad joke: "Of course I know Biz! He's been JUST A FRIEND for years!"

The only drawbacks were the rules against food in the theater (I was rather counting on a snack for my medication), and the rather anemic offerings insofar as concessions were concerned (flat soda, no caffeine-free options, sold out of soft pretzels and apple juice within minutes.)

My biggest gripe? Accessibility.

When my husband bought the tickets, he specifically asked for wheelchair seating as close to the restroom as possible. 

What we got was yet another example of how differently the word "accessible" is defined by the general public versus how it's defined by the disabled community. 

Technically, our seats were very close to the bathroom: the restrooms were on the bottom floor and our seats were directly on top of them, one floor up. Ideal for almost everyone hoping to make a few quick pit stops. Especially folks with disability-related bladder issues like myself.

But as it turns out, "almost everyone" does not include me, as the restrooms were only accessible from our seats by a very long and wide staircase. 

Naturally, stairs are out of the question for me, so I had to take the elevator...which was on the exact opposite end of the large theater from our seats! So while in theory we had the best bathroom-adjacent seats in the house, in practice we couldn't possibly have been further away. 

Lesson learned: ask where the bathrooms are AND how one gets to them from the assigned seat.

All things considered, the few gripes hardly matter. After all, this outing wasn't about me: it was about my daughter & my goddaughter getting to have a great time with characters they know and love. And "Yo Gabba Gabba! Live!" absolutely delivered. 

During the program, DJ Lance Rock mentioned that they'd been doing this tour for five years. If they come back to Portland, I'd love to take my daughter and goddaughter back to see them again! 

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