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Giant Veggies Bring Message to the Stage

October 4, 2013

YellowBrix

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A live touring show featuring characters from "VeggieTales" celebrates 20 years of Larry the Cucumber, Mr. Lunt

(a decorative Spanish gourd) and other oversized singing vegetables. The TV and movie stars remain popular among preschoolers with hits such as "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything."

It's a birthday party for enormous dancing vegetables, and the people behind "VeggieTales" seem to be going with a dual theme: birthdays and enormous dancing vegetables.

Judging by the rapt preschoolers in the audience in a promotional video for the "VeggieTales Live! Happy Birthday Bob & Larry" tour, coming tonight to Spokane, that's plenty.

Normally computer animated, "VeggieTales" characters such as Petunia Rhubarb, Larry the Cucumber, Bob the Tomato and Laura Carrot take the stage in the musical touring show. Among fan favorites on the program: "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything," "God is Bigger than the Boogie-Man" and "I Love My Lips."

"VeggieTales" was launched in 1993 as a direct-to-video series featuring singing, dancing vegetables in stories conveying "lessons to live by." Some retell biblical stories, and many contain a moral with a Christian bent.

The series has since sold 70 million videos, 15 million books and more than 7 million CDs, according to Big Idea Entertainment, the division of DreamWorks Animation SKG that produces "VeggieTales."

Besides the lessons, there's plenty of silliness. "If my lips ever left my mouth, packed their bags and headed south, that'd be too bad," sings Larry the Cucumber in one number.

The silliness is no accident, said Mike Nawrocki, the "VeggieTales" co-creator who plays Larry.

"VeggieTales" is meant to be a resource parents can use to pass on biblical values such as thankfulness and forgiveness, Nawrocki said. But the stories aren't meant to be preachy.

The writers strive to incorporate themes within story, so kids feel what the character feels and learn what she learns about thankfulness, for example. "It's seeing and not just saying," Nawrocki said.

They also interject regular doses of humor, including "Monty Python"-inspired breakaways into silly songs that have become fan favorites.

"If kids are singing and laughing and having fun as they're watching the stories, they're much more able to remember them and then hopefully incorporate those lessons into their lives," Nawrocki said.

When: 7 tonight

Where: Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, 1001 W. Sprague Ave.

Tickets: $18 to $33. Available at the Fox box office or by calling (509) 624-1200, or through TicketsWest, www.ticketswest.com or (800) 325-SEAT.

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