Playing to the Preschool Crowd

The landscape of experiential licensing and promotions has diversified over the years, with licensors now highlighting their properties through signature hotels, escape room themes, blood drives, and much more, depending on the brand image and/or content associated with the IP. But when it comes to creating experiences for the preschool set, property owners tend to focus on the tried-and-true, and that means live performances.

Some of the many preschool-centric stage shows that were announced or have premiered in 2018:

  • Fred Rogers Productions is developing a math-based musical tied to Peg + Cat, produced by the Brad Simon Organization and Bay Area Children’s Theatre and set to travel across the U.S. One unique element: Purdue University researchers will be on-site to measure the show’s immediate impact on attendees’ math skills.
  • Andersen Press partnered with Selladoor Family and MEI Theatrical for a U.K. stage tour to support Elmer the Patchwork Elephant’s 30th anniversary. The show, which runs through June 2019, is based on the original David McKee book and is the first stage show for the property in a decade.
  • Entertainment One and Round Room Presents are producing a PJ Masks stage show. The production, set to run through the first quarter of 2019, will feature a new character from the series, PJ Robot, as well as the three animated stars.
  • The Copyrights Group paired with Butlin’s for a stage show called Paddington at the Seaside, taking its theme from the location of this British chain of beach resorts. The show will debut at three resorts in early 2019 and will include opportunities for meet-and-greets with the character.
  • CBS Consumer Products licensed The Children’s Theatre Company for a production based on two of author Don Freeman’s books, Corduroy and A Pocket for Corduroy. The play, with its message of friendship, had its world premiere as part of the Minneapolis’ theater’s 2017-2018 season.
  • Nelvana and Round Room Presents are developing a stage show that will tour worldwide, based on the preschool series Ranger Rob. The schedule will begin with a trip around Canada, where the series airs on Treehouse TV, in 2019.
  • Walker Books collaborated with Selladoor Family and ABA International Touring U.K. for a stage adaptation of the book Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram. The production debuted at The Arts Theatre London in December 2017, followed by spring and fall tours this year.
  • DHX Brands and Millennium Entertainment International collaborated on a live tour tied to Twirlywoos. The show premiered in 2018 and includes the U.K. and Eire, the Middle East, Spain, and Australia in its schedule.
  • Minor Entertainment premiered Bing Live, based on the British TV series licensed by Acamar Films, in 2018, with 40 cities across the U.K. initially on the roster. In July, the partners announced an extension of the tour into 2019, bringing the total up to 60 shows.
  • El Bebe Productions and agent Surge Licensing retained Brooke-Mauchline Productions and Nicoll Entertainment for a series of live events in the U.K. based on Little Baby Bum, a YouTube series.
  • Stageworks Media and Broadway Licensing gained the rights to adapt Beat Bugs, licensed by Centa IP, into a musical stage show. The Netflix series is based on storylines of Beatles songs, with covers by leading musical artists included in each episode. The live show is in development.
  • Mills Entertainment, licensee to a wide portfolio of properties, secured the rights to Daniel Tiger and friends from the Fred Rogers Company. The production, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live! King for a Day, currently is scheduled to travel the U.S. from December 2018 though May 2019, after earlier dates in spring 2018. The partners have worked together previously on the property.
  • Nickelodeon, VStar Entertainment Group, and Koba Productions brought back the Bubble Guppies for another live tour, Bubble Guppies Live! Ready to Rock, in 2018. It hit 30 cities in the spring.

Stage shows such as these are not just for preschoolers, of course; properties of many types have been involved in similar experiences. Stage productions are particularly relevant in the preschool space, however. Not only do they generate awareness, fan loyalty, and revenue, as any experiential event does, but from a learning standpoint they help reinforce the social-emotional concepts, imagination, and other educational themes associated with the core property.

For the licensees, meanwhile, these types of shows are a way to help create the next generation of live theater fans.

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