Three Cheers for Low Production Values!


Our own Sara Berliner on her recent adventure to Wild Kratts Live!

In the middle of this interminable winter, I spent a lively hour with my oldest child watching a cast of foam-and-felt animals in their natural habitat: the theater. It was a stop on the North American tour of Wild Kratts Live!, a popular stage version of the even-more-popular PBS show, Wild Kratts. By sheer luck I bought front-row seats so we had a close-up view of the stars, Martin and Chris Kratt, and their low-tech approach to wowing almost a thousand kids and appreciative parents.

The Wild Kratts TV show is part live-action, with zoologist and biologist brothers introducing viewers to live animals and their habitats, and part action-adventure animation, with missions to save these animals using zany technology and a team of animated characters. While the hosts are goofy and approachable, the animated segments are fast-paced and slickly animated, and I expected a stage show to match. In a day when 3D animated characters are incredibly lifelike and kids regularly use the latest technology with complex graphics at high speeds, I was surprised — pleasantly — by the show’s slow pacing and low-tech aesthetic.

We spend a lot of time perfecting things at Night & Day Studios. Our apps might start out in paper and pencil sketches or watercolors, but they end up joined in a seamless motion experience where rough edges are rarely exposed. The thing about Wild Kratts Live!: they showed the seams. The Creature Power Suits were dinged-up foam with faded paint, the fog machine was kind of dinky, there was too much time between scenes, and the projected video didn’t launch on cue. There were only two performers. But the kids didn’t care. They cheered, gasped, and shouted advice. They were thrilled. The show was a reminder that a great story with compelling characters can transcend its packaging. And perhaps at times, less-than-perfect is more ideal than perfect.

Join us in following Wild Kratts for some great fun!