Tour Publicist Laura Wheeler Talks About PAW Patrol Live at the Kimmel Center and Her Philly Roots

PAW Patrol LIVE! is coming to the Kimmel Center’s Academy of Music from April 5th to the 7th. This puppy-filled adventure takes place on race day! Audiences join the PAW Patrol crew as Adventure Bay’s Mayor Goodway and Foggy Bottom’s Mayor Humdinger are about to compete. But Mayor Goodway is nowhere to be found! Ryder calls on his friends Marshall, Chase, Skye, Rubble, Rocky, Zuma, and Everest to find Mayor Goodway and maybe even run the race in her place!

We talked with VStar Entertainment Group’s tour publicist Laura Wheeler to learn more about this live theatrical production based on the popular Nickelodeon animated series. Bonus points, Laura is from Philly!

Q: You’re from Philly! What neighborhood? Where are you located now?
A: I grew up about 20 minutes North of Philadelphia in Levittown. I come from a full family of Philadelphians, mostly hailing from Bridesburg and North East Philadelphia. While attending Temple University, I lived in Fishtown and Center City (just behind the Kimmel Center). After graduating from Temple, I had a chance to work at Walnut Street Theatre as an apprentice. If you are about to graduate college and want to get involved in the arts, definitely check out their apprentice program! After touring the country with live shows, my husband and I settled in Minnesota. While much colder than Philly, we are adapting to the Mid-West.

Q: What is your relationship to the show?
A: I am the tour publicist at VStar Entertainment Group which means I tell people in different cities about PAW Patrol Live! I get to coordinate with the touring cast and crew, to coordinate appearances and interviews (now I am on the other side getting interviewed myself)! My favorite part is coordinating hospital visits, having Ryder visit kids that can’t make it to the show.

Q: And who is your favorite pup from the show?
A: My favorite pup in “Race to the Rescue” is probably Everest, although each pup has something that makes them special. She is a forest ranger and likes to spend her time outside, just like me!

Q: Why do you feel this animated series was a good choice to be brought to life on stage?
A: PAW Patrol is one of the most popular shows on Nick Jr., making it an easy decision to bring it to the stage. I think its popularity really comes from the diversity of the pups. Every kid can find one pup that they can relate to and I think that is really important when you are young (and even as an adult)! The show teaches important lessons like citizenship, problem solving, and the importance of teamwork, so I think parents are fans of the show as well.

Q: What were some challenges in bringing these characters to the stage?
A: One of the biggest challenges in bringing these TV characters to the stage is that they are four legged animals! The performers portraying the pups have two feet, while pups have four. So, our creative team did what they do best and created innovative costumes based on Bunraku puppetry. This style of puppetry originated in Japan and allows performers to bring our four-legged friends to life on stage, helping to fully immerse kids in the story.

Q: Is the live show easy to follow for people who may not have seen the animated series? Or should I binge them all quick?!
A: While the stage show is based off the cartoon series, the on-stage production is an original story line and script. The characters are right from the TV screen, but even kids and parents that have never seen the TV series will connect with them on stage. The music is up-beat and catchy, sure to get the who family moving and grooving.

Q: Kids may be experiencing theatre for the first time with PAW Patrol Live. Is there anything you think parents should discuss/prep their kids for before they attend?
A: PAW Patrol Live “Race to the Rescue” is a great introduction to live theater. Arts education is so important and live theater is a perfect way to expose kids to the arts at a young age. Parents don’t need to prep anything ahead of time, but I do encourage parents to interact with the show along with their kids. It is also a great opportunity to ask questions and connect with kids after the show is over, asking them their favorite part and allowing them to retell their experience.

Q: There are two different PAW Patrol stories on stage at the moment- “Race to the Rescue” and “The Great Pirate Adventure”. Why two at once? And will Philly get a chance to see “The Great Pirate Adventure” in the future?
A: PAW Patrol Live! “Race to the Rescue” first hit the stage in October of 2016. Because it was a huge hit, VStar Entertainment Group (the live show creator) decided to add a second show to reach more families in more cities across the United States. It also gives us a chance to revisit cities with a different show, giving fans a chance to see their favorite pups in a new adventure. PAW Patrol Live! “The Great Pirate Adventure” was in Philadelphia last year, and we hope it can return in the future. We know there are so many PAW Patrol fans in the area!

Q: Will there be audience participation?
A: PAW Patrol Live! “Race to the Rescue” is filled with audience participation. We don’t expect kids to sit still and quiet. The show was built for them to shout out answers, clap, dance, sing, and interact with the performers. Each child is given a free “cheer pom” when they enter the theater and are encouraged to wave it in the air to cheer on the pups. We want it to be a memorable experience and allowing kids to play an active role in the show is an important part of that experience.  

Q: My dog Roscoe wants to know why real dogs can’t come to this show 😊
A: I wish I could bring my little pup Moose to the show as well! We actually work with a lot of different groups and charities across the US to help get shelter dogs adopted. It is not uncommon to see adoptable dogs in the lobby of the show looking for their forever home. Just like in PAW Patrol, we feel it is important to give back and get involved with the communities we visit with our touring production. We love working with these local organizations in different cities all over the country.

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