There was the time a little girl’s shout-out made Alex Gilbert feel like a rock star.
“I love you, Skippyjon!” she yelled. “I read all of your books!”
“How can you not feel great after that?” asked Gilbert, who plays the Siamese cat Skippyjon Jones in Theatreworks-USA’s musical, “Skippyjon Jones Snow What!”
The New York-based company’s traveling show is based on the latest book in author and illustrator Judy Schachner’s children’s series, which came out Oct. 21.
The tour will stop at the Manship Theatre on Thursday, Nov. 12. Alan Medrano, who plays Skippyjon’s Chihuahua sidekick, Don Diego.
But this isn’t just any new story. Skippyjon Jones has a strong following of young readers eager to learn what happens on their hero’s next adventure, where he stars in his own version of the fairy tale, “Snow White.”
Skippy, as known by his friends, often disappears in an imaginary world where he becomes Mexican Chihuahua Skippito Friskito. And while his sisters are listening to an audio of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,” Skippy decides to make the story his own.
He disappears into his closet, like Superman in a telephone booth, and out comes Skippito and his Chihuahua band of Seven Chimichangos, who set out to rescue the beautiful princess Nieve Qué — Snow What.
They battle a dragon and the evil witch. But are they able to rescue Snow What?
Neither Gilbert nor Medrano will reveal the ending. But Gilbert will say that Skippyjon is up to the challenge.
“He always has the best intentions, and he’s always ready for an adventure,” Gilbert said. “But sometimes his curiosity gets the best of him.”
And sometimes Don Diego’s posturing gets the best of him.
“Don Diego is the leaders of the Chihuahua pack — the patriarch,” Medrano said. “He acts brave, but he usually gets himself in a bind and relies on Skippy to save the day.”
The Baton Rouge stop will mark the first Louisiana visit for both actors, who will join their cast mates in meeting audience members in the lobby after the performance. They’ve discovered that the production is more than a play for Skippyjon fans — it’s a chance for them to meet and talk to their favorite characters in person.
“Before I started doing children’s theater, I had the assumption that it was just a watered-down version of plays,” Medrano said. “But then I realized that kids have such a high imagination. They get absorbed.”
“It’s been great to introduce kids to a new story,” Gilbert added. “And, sometimes, they’re so into the story that they talk to us when we’re on stage. I love children’s theater, because it’s so different. I love being large and expressive on stage.”