Best-loved kids' shows play Charlotte's stages

Two big kids shows come to life this weekend in two big Charlotte venues: “Sesame Street Live” performs its latest production – “Elmo’s Super Heroes” – at Bojangles’ Coliseum Friday through Sunday, while Disney’s “Phineas and Ferb” brings “The Best LIVE Tour Ever!” to Time Warner Cable Arena Sunday.

The success of Disney’s latest hit, “Phineas and Ferb,” is in part due to its widespread appeal. Toddlers may be entertained by the slapstick humor and catchy songs, while older kids (and kids at heart) may be drawn to its irreverent brand of comedy.

So the creators of “Phineas and Ferb: The Best LIVE Tour Ever!” wanted to maintain that appeal when transitioning from the small screen to the big stage for the new live-action musical show.

Like the series, the show has something for all ages, says James Shea, the production’s performance director.

“It’s one of those shows where everyone can find something. Young adults and adults appreciate the quick-witted humor, and that it pokes fun at itself and pop culture. Young kids will love the music. And the really young kids will love the colors, the big oversized props and the interaction.”

(Shea himself is a die-hard “Phineas and Ferb” fan, and was before he landed the gig. “I have great memories of myself and my friends watching the series,” says the 25-year-old Orlando resident.)

To make the transition from 2-D ’toon to live actors, “The Best LIVE Tour Ever!” begins with the characters literally bursting from the screen. The creators also incorporated voice work by members of the TV series’ cast, including Ashley Tisdale and Mitchel Musso.

While the story and one song – how the stepbrothers will spend their last day of summer – are new, most of the songs are staples from the show, including Candace’s “Squirrels in my Pants.”

The character of Candace (Tisdale’s TV counterpart) comes to life with bulging eyes and a mold of long red hair – all part of a prosthetic-style half-mask that doesn’t cover the actor’s nose and mouth; her brothers, Agent P and Dr. Doofenshmirtz wear more traditional masks, with their limbs free for dancing and action.

“The silhouettes absolutely resemble the cartoon characters,” Shea says. “I always say if you turned off all the lights and lit everyone from behind, it would look like the cartoon cutouts.”

Related stories from Charlotte Observer