by Angela Johnson

It's hard to believe the effect Blue's Clues has on a child until you witness a 2-year-old sit in one place to watch it. Keeping a toddler this age still for 30 minutes is an amazing feat, but I've seen it with my own eyes.

Now you can see it for yourself. Blue, Steve, Mail Box and the rest of the characters are coming to Spokane in a stage presentation of "Blue's Clues Live!" on Wednesday, July 11, and Thursday, July 12.

This live performance is based on Nickelodeon's popular preschool-aged show, Blue's Clues, which is on TV from Monday through Friday at 9:30 am and 12:30 pm. Blue's Clues airs during a block of time called Nick Jr. that is designed specifically for preschoolers. It currently boasts more than seven million weekly viewers and claims to have changed the way children watch TV, because it encourages them to play an active part in searching for clues.

Due to the TV show's success, the live theater production was created in 1999 by some of the same people who started the series. By October of 2000, more than 800,000 family members had already seen the live production of Blue's Clues.

"We couldn't be more thrilled that the stage show has lived up to the incredible standards of the Blue's Clues franchise," says Stuart Rosenstein, co-executive producer and vice president of Nickelodeon Theatricals.

Thomas Mizer, who has appeared in productions of Lost in Yonkers and Schoolhouse Rock, Live, plays the character of Steve. Mizer says auditioning for "Blue's Clues Live!" was an arduous process taking more than two months. The executives wanted to make sure they had just the right person cast as Steve -- they were concerned kids would be upset that television Steve wasn't at the live show.

"The kids are so much more imaginative than adults," Mizer says. "They go, 'It's theater, let's imagine, let's play.' "

The word used most often to describe the production is interactive. The kids get a chance to talk to Steve, help find clues and figure out the puzzle. Mizer can hear the kids talking to him, and he can respond. It allows the children to feel smart and involved, he says.

"It's the reverse of most children's shows," Mizer says. "It creates magic."

The show is a combination of playfulness, mystery and music, which Mizer calls a "Broadway musical for 4-year-olds."

Some of the new characters in the live show should still be familiar to most children, such as Goldie Locks and the three bears in Storybook Forest. And in space, Steve, Blue and all the kids have an opportunity to meet the planets, including one with an attitude, Mars.

"The best part is I get to fly and Blue gets to fly," says Mizer.

The show, which has sold out in many cities, took a three-and-a-half-month hiatus before beginning its latest tour in January.

"The positive response from children and parents was amazing," says Tim Orchard, who has booked the show into Chicago. He adds that "Blue's Clues Live!" is a highly requested show.

In fact, the show is doing so well that children and parents should expect it to be around for a long time.

"'Blue's Clues Live!' has raised the level of quality for children's live entertainment and successfully expanded an important brand for Nickelodeon," Rosenstein says, "We see 'Blue's Clues Live!' becoming an annual franchise in the live family theatrical world."

"Blue's Clues Live!" is on Wednesday, July 11, at 7 pm and Thursday, July 12, at 10:30 am and 7 pm at the Spokane Opera House. Tickets: $12-$25.

Call 325-SEAT or go to

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