Emmy, Max and their dragon friends meet Mr. Pop, who collects sounds in his jars.

PBS stage adaptation
thrills kids

"Dragon Tales Live"continues Thursday through Sunday at Blaisdell Arena, with performances at 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; and 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets: $11 to $30. Call 591-2211 for information or charge by phone at 526-4400.

Review by Nancy Arcayna

Flying dragons, a big mystery and a lot of dragon tail shaking had keiki dancing in the aisles Friday at the opening night of "Dragon Tales Live." The PBS television phenomenon definitely translates to the stage.

The musical tells the tale of Emmy and Max as they join their dragon friends Cassie, Ord, Zak and Wheezie in an attempt to solve a mystery of the missing music in Dragon Land.

At the start of the show, Max and Emmy's room magically transforms into Dragon Land, a colorful place with backdrops set within a giant sparkling tree. But it was the oversize dragons that kept everyone's attention.

Quetzal, the oldest and wisest dragon, was larger than life, towering 16 feet tall and giving confidence to both the dragons and children. The solution to their dilemma is "all about believing in yourself and working together to solve the mystery," Quetzal says.

Overcoming challenges and finding ways to deal with fears and problems are two of the important messages behind "Dragon Tales Live."

Each character faces a challenge, with the help of the audience. The characters wear badges that light up when they reach their goal or successfully deal with their challenging situation.

The show is intended for children ages 2 to 5, but my son, who's nearly 7, said it was the best show he ever saw.

The special effects surpassed typical "Sesame Street Live" performances. The "Sesame Street" gang has been coming here to entertain families for years, but it was nice to see something new and refreshing.

The youngsters in the crowd went wild when Max and Emmy soared over the stage on the backs of the flying dragons, Ord and Cassie.

Danielle, a 4-year-old sitting next to me, couldn't keep still. She said she liked "everything" as she clapped, danced and sang along, while her mother, Vicki Guist, appreciated the lighting effects and interactive aspects of the show.

Also magical were the flowers and bird puppets that popped out of the stage and the Giant of Nod -- the culprit who stole the music. The giant, who's actually quite small, is only large in the eyes of tiny "nodlings" that won't let him get any sleep, making him very grouchy indeed. The fluttering butterflies were also a nice touch.

My favorite part of the show was the dance of the dandelion flowers. The dancers wore costumes that glowed in the dark.

Hopefully, the parking situation will improve during the rest of the show's run. The Blaisdell was holding its annual craft fair on opening night, and many eager "Dragon Tale" ticket holders had to search for other parking options after being turned away from the full lot.

But the show is well worth the effort it takes to get there. The musical bursts with color and energy and is full of songs children will recognize, such as "Shake Your Dragon Tail." The live version also provides interactive opportunities that keep kids engaged, preventing them from getting restless.

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