Toopy and Binoo’s latest tour includes Red Deer

Popular characters Toopy and Binoo will be hitting the Memorial Centre stage on Sept. 30th as part of a fall tour across western Canada.

‘Toopy and Binoo: Fun and Games’ heads to Red Deer for two shows that day – 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. The characters are based on the pair from the animated series for preschoolers based on the books created by Dominique Jolin.

Toopy is a funny, friendly, optimistic, impulsive mouse whose zest for life is matched only by his love for his best friend, Binoo. Binoo is a lovable cat who is logical, sensible, and thinks before he acts and he is devoted to his best friend Toopy.

As for the latest show, ‘Toopy and Binoo: Fun and Games’, the production integrates music, theatre, dance, puppetry and innovative multimedia technology to create an off-the-wall experience that will delight the family. Toopy and Binoo blend optimism, imagination and spontaneity in their quest to find the best game ever.

The story unfolds when a toy chest full of mismatched games and puzzles ignites the pair’s imagination, explains writer/director/award-winning choreographer Patti Caplette, who is also artistic director of Koba Entertainment.

“It’s really amazingly bright, colourful and beautiful,” she said. “Every show has its own story line, and this is the first time we’ve taken a story line of straight fun and games. Toopy wants to be able to play the best game with the audience, so there’s kind of a contest of which is the best game ever.

“We go through of a series of about 10 different games that the audience gets to play with Toopy and Binoo. I think it’s very unique in itself, because the audience is going to be very busy in this show,” she chuckles. “The audience will be a lot more involved with every number rather than a select few numbers – so I’m really looking forward to that.”

The foundation of every show is one of unabashed imagination, she said. “There are no boundaries to the imagination or the fun. And Toopy and Binoo are the quintessential duo who have taken things way beyond the word ‘imagination’. They really break boundaries – it’s a great program.”

Audiences will enjoy watching as Toopy and Binoo dance with Xs and Os, wiggle with smiling snakes and try to outsmart a gang of dancing ladders. Along with tea-partying cats, Dusteroos and a flock of fun-loving sheep, Toopy and Binoo indeed embark on their wackiest and most interactive adventure yet.

Besides Caplette, the creative team includes Juno Award-winner Norman Foote, projection and scenic designer Beth Kates and costume design by Maydwell Mascotts, Anne Armit and Kevin McGuire.

Caplette first discovered her love of performing arts at her mother’s dance studio in Vancouver where by age five she was showing an early knack for choreography and playwriting. Between 1973 and 1992 she performed in more than 400 cities in 19 countries including United States, Canada, Russia, Japan, Egypt and Mexico and starred in productions by international choreographers.

And after three years with Les Grands Ballets, she joined the Royal Winnipeg Ballet where, over 15 years with the company, she danced in many productions including Peter Wright’s Giselle, John Neumeier’s Nutcracker, Agnes de Milne’s Fall River Legend and Rudi Van Datzig’s Romeo and Juliet.

After much success as a dancer, she turned to choreography and was soon creating award-winning work for dance companies, the opera, the symphony and even the circus.

Besides Toopy and Binoo, Koba’s touring shows feature characters from children’s literature and television including The Backyardigans, Franklin the Turtle, Max & Ruby, Doodlebops and Caillou.

As for Toopy and Binoo, the characters made their television debut in 2005 and climbed into the hearts of children in hundreds of countries, including Treehouse TV (Canada), Tiji (France), Rai Sat (Italy) and Sun TV (India).

Meanwhile, for Caplette, there isn’t much of a ‘rest period’ between this show and moving onto the next one. Pretty much as soon as Toopy and Binoo hit the road, she will be starting to fashion Koba’s next seasonal show based on The Nutcracker.

“It’s a beautiful show, and a great way to introduce young people to the classic music of Tchaikovsky.”

Meanwhile, Caplette really couldn’t be in a more fitting line of work.

“I work with amazing casts and amazing co-creators,” she said. “My cast is also a wonderful group of performers – they are out on the road, they are troopers and they live to perform. I just love working with that kind of energy.

“It also keeps me young – I was born into theatre and have been in theatre all my life,” she said. “It’s something I want to bring to families to have as part of their lives, too. And hopefully propagate more theatre-goers, patrons and people who will continue to keep the art of theatre alive.”

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