The beloved YouTube sensation, CoComelon, is coming to The Straz Center! CoComelon Live: JJ’s Journey is bringing all your favorite characters to live on stage. On September 21, 2022, you can join JJ, YoYo, TomTom, Bingo, and Mom and Dad in this Broadway-style musical production that the whole family can enjoy.
We recently got the chance to speak to the show’s producer, Glenn Orsher. Here’s what he had to say about his inspiration to bring CoComelon to the stage, and what guests can expect during this one-of-a-kind production.
TBPM: You’ve worked with some of the biggest names in Entertainment during your career. What inspired you to bring CoComelon to a live stage?
Glenn: I began my career working for recording artists and I was a producer, creative director of their tours and then when I had my own kids, I started taking them to children shows and I was very disappointed at the attention that was put into the production of those shows. They were not as engaging as I would have hoped, particularly for the parents.
I think what a lot of producers of kids shows overlook is the fact that half your audience are adults. I had this epiphany, and I began devoting a lot of my time to kids shows and trying to create a show that would really engage the entire audience.
So that’s I think what’s different, you know, I don’t even like to call these shows, ‘kids shows,’ I like to call them family shows because we really take great care in the production value of the show and in in the storyline and everything about the show.
As I look at properties that become popular, I always look for three things: the educational content, because I think it’s valuable to use, entertainment as a way to educate kids, and sneaking in some instructional material.
I always love family centric properties that really talk about how important family is, because that’s important to me and I found early on in working on family shows that the best driver of family shows, is music. And since I came from a music background and it worked well for me and I think particularly in this age demographic, storyline and plot and dialogue really doesn’t engage young kids, but songs do, and you can tell a story. I mean, that’s the basis of Broadway musicals.
TBPM: Why do you think Cocomelon resonates with both kids and adults?
I had the honor of speaking to the actual creator of the show. We talked about this, and I think there are a couple things. I think first, the animation is really beautiful, and the characters are fun. They’re very individualistic.
Every character has his own personality. The fact that the music is simple and engaging and I think there’s a tremendous range. There are the imaginary animals, there are the friends at the school room. Coco melon goes to a lot of places, as does our live show. We definitely took that on board, and we go to the beach, and we go to the mountains, and we go all over the place.
TBPM: What can guests expect to experience during the show?
Glenn: We have all the favorite characters – the family, Miss Applebury, the school schoolmates, imaginary animals. We have a lot of fun with the animals so they’ll see everybody that they would expect to see.
They’ll have their favorite songs they’ll already know. Plus, we have five or six original songs that were written by a terrific songwriter, Elliott Kennedy. He’s a tremendous songwriter, he wrote the music from Finding Neverland, and he wrote some terrific original songs for us. So, there’s great music, there’s very beautiful production value.
There’s a big video wall that provides the digital scenery and it’s gorgeous. It lives up to the expectation that people will have from watching the YouTube series.
As I said, we keep this story simple so the kids can follow it, but basically the story is called JJ’s Journey and the characters come to life at the beginning of the show and are putting on a show for the audience.
The family and all the kids have their own song that they’re going to sing as part of the show, and JJ doesn’t have a song to sing, and he wants to write a song. So, his mom gives him a music box that he can use to spur his imagination and the show is really his journey of looking into his imagination, trying to determine what his song should be for the show, and at the end, he comes up with a terrific song and he gets to deliver it to the audience that complete his journey.
The themes are about relying on yourself and your imagination and your family and your friends to help you solve problems. And in the end, that’s how JJ gets there and he’s very proud of himself as is the family and it’s terrific. He completes his journey.
TBPM: Is there anything that parents should know before they go if they have a child who is sensitive to lights and sounds?
Glenn: We are particularly careful about the level of the of the audio, so we’re always very conscious of that and I have yet to hear one complaint about it being too loud. And the lights are theatrical lights. There are no strobes or flashing lights or anything like that.
We’re also very conscious of the fact that there are kids, there are older siblings, their parents, and their grandparents. We really reach out to everyone in the audience. We want to entertain everyone, and there’s a lot of interactivity and people have to stand up and sing and dance along and they love it.
One of the most common comments that I hear from parents is ‘I think I had as good a time or maybe better than my kids had.’ I love to hear that because I know the kids are having a great time. JJ walks on stage and they’re enthralled and become fixated throughout the show.
But to hear that from the parents, and to see the parents and grandparents leaving with big smiles on their faces, that’s what it’s all about to me.
You can catch CoComelon Live: JJ’s Journey at The Straz Center on September 21 at 6pm. Here are a few things to know before you go:
Tickets start at $34.75. Click here to purchase. Children under one year do not require a paid ticket to sit on a parent or guardian’s lap. Free lap tickets are available at the Carol Morisani Hall lobby.
There are two VIP experiences available – JJ’s Meet & Greet Extravaganza and JJ’s Surprise. Each includes one ticket to the show, complimentary merchandise, concession, and beverage vouchers, customizable VIP laminate and lanyard, and priority check-in. JJ’s Meet & Greet also includes a photo op with JJ and select cast members.
A Virtual Meet & Greet is available which will include a 1-minute virtual meet and greet and virtual photo op with JJ. This will NOT include a ticket to the show.
The Straz Center recommends planning your parking ahead of time. Check out their parking recommendations to know where to go the day of.
Featured image credit: CoComelon Live: JJ’s Journey
For more family-friendly things to do this month, check out The 35+ BEST Pumpkin Patches in Tampa Bay and Fall Festivals