Hey, Dudes, It's Time For Some Shellebrating

Posted: December 28, 1990

Grandma from Ohio sent a check and wrote, "Do something special for the children."

Now, you could buy them new winter boots, which they desperately need since their toes are curled up in last year's boots.

But you know that's not what Grandma meant. She was thinking of something special like . . . Walt Disney's World on Ice . . . or "The Lord of the Rings" . . . or (if she's a very hip granny) the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Coming Out of Their Shells tour.

Walt Disney's World On Ice features the familiar Disney characters, including Mickey and Minnie, and Ducktails Huey, Dewey and Louie, as well as the newest Disney creations, Ariel, Sebastian and Ursula from "The Little Mermaid." The family entertainment show is appearing at the Spectrum through Jan. 6. Tickets are $7.50-$13.50. For more information, call 336-2000.

"The Lord of The Rings" is this season's family holiday special on the stage at the Annenberg Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Hobbits, Elves, Orcs and Dark Riders - all appearing as giant puppets - draw the audience into their adventures. Performances are today through Sunday, with tickets $24 for adults and $12 for children. For more information, call 898-6791.

Last night, despite the first snowstorm of the season, hordes of green- swaddled dudes and dudettes made their way to the Civic Center for the opening night of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Coming Out of Their Shells tour. Unauthorized souvenirs were being aggressively hawked in the underground parking garage, causing major (and dangerous) pile-ups of kids and their parents at the entrances to the escalators. Inside, the shilling was even worse, but merchandising is what the Turtles are all about, right?

The show is introduced by roving reporter April O'Neil, who reports ''live" from the audience, coaching little Ninja fans to shout ''Cowabunga" at appropriate moments. It didn't take much coaching.

Two giant video screens flank the stage, which is good because most kids were introduced to the Turtles on TV, and suddenly seeing them life-size on stage is somewhat disconcerting. Many eyes spent more time peering at the special effects on the screens, which cut from the live action on stage to filmed footage from the real world.

How was the music? In a word, derivative. You had your Beach Boys surfer song, your rap-inspired "Cowabunga," and your Rolling Stones-like anthem ''Out of Our Shells." April even does her own little Madonna thing, when she's tied up by the evil Shredder and wails a song taught to her by her Turtle friends.

But music alone won't keep this audience happy. Shredder appears with a great deal of noise, smoke and lights, and holds the entire Civic Center captive, threatening to turn all the children into slaves. Are they afraid? Nah, the Turtles are sure to come to the rescue.

And they do, after lots of sermonizing about good and evil.

Despite the Turtles' claim that this "music stuff" is lots more exciting than weapons, it's really the thrill of the ultimate bad guy Shredder, not the rock 'n' roll, that gets all those little Ninjas' blood boiling.

The show contains a number of funny bits - like Michaelangelo impersonating Dean Martin ("when the moon hits your eyes like a big pizza pie"), Elvis and even Bart Simpson. Or when the Turtles do a take-off on "Jeopardy."

While the kids were responsive to the antics on stage, they weren't up on their feet boogieing in the aisles, as April had suggested to them at the start of the show. It's pretty safe to assume this was the first rock show most of these kids had ever attended. "The Nutcracker" it ain't.

But for your typical Turtle-crazed child, the evening's entertainment doesn't disappoint. It's bodacious, dudes!

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will continue rocking the Civic Center through Monday, with two shows daily (2 and 7 p.m.) today, tomorrow and Sunday; matinee only on Monday. Tickets are $10-$20. Info: 823-7400.

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