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My Little Pony prances into the Hult.

Byline: Serena Markstrom The Register-Guard

As a consequence of having to wrap presents for five children, one Christmas in the mid-1980s my mother made the mistake of not labeling some of our gifts. My brother got a My Little Pony; I got a Transformer.

Those colorful, big-eyed ponies came out in 1982, and the robots in disguise hit America in 1984. So anyone younger than about 35 probably remembers playing with at least one of the popular toys.

But perhaps you don't remember how similar the Hasbro packaging was for the toy for girls and toy for boys. My mom tried to have us just switch, but I insisted the Transformer was mine. On principle.

Perhaps my first brush with feminism.

But the thing was, I didn't like Transformers. They were rough and pokey and some of them required complex sequential moves, like a Rubik's Cube, in order to get them back in their mundane disguises.

Shortly after I made my political stance, and increased the stress of the holiday for my mother, I exchanged gifts with my brother. My new pony joined my other ponies for hours of hair combing and prancing on my bunk bed.

Women in my generation have memories of the toy ponies and the countless cartoons. But until now, we never had a musical theater version starring our beloved characters.

That theme song of the cartoon has stuck with me: "My Little Pony, My Little Pony, what will our next adventure be?" (or something like that). It turns out the very same question is at the heart of the My Little Pony Live! production, `The World's Biggest Tea Party,' which is in town for five shows today through Sunday.

The story starts with the ponies sitting around wondering what to do that day. After asking the audience what it would like them to do, the ponies decide to throw the world's biggest tea party and invite all their friends from nearby magical kingdoms.

By now, many of the women who grew up with the first generation of ponies and variations such as So-Soft and Twinkled-Eyed Ponies have children of their own.

Whether parents or children initiate the trip to the Hult Center this weekend, an actor who plays Rainbow Dash said both generations have been enjoying the show so far.

"It's going great," said Timothy Caouette, who was born the year My Little Pony came out. "The audiences have been really receptive.

`We have the parents coming up, and they are just as excited as the kids are and they remember playing with the ponies. It's something that the whole family enjoys."

Pony favorites re-created

The show is new. Vee Corporation, which brought `Sesame Street Live!' to Oregon in the late '90s, struck an agreement this summer to co-produce the show with Hasbro. The company started touring in October.

"This production has all of the elements of a Broadway-quality show," Caouette said. "The sets are very impressive. It's a big production, and it's something that can be appreciated even as an adult."

The performers dance and act, but all music and dialog is prerecorded. Caouette and the other seven actors who play ponies wear lightweight suits in which the hind legs move in tandem with the performer's own legs.

Ponies from the first and second generation of the toy line are present in the cast, which includes Pinkie Pie, one of the newer My Little Pony characters, and features Minty, Sweetberry, Thistle Whistle, Rarity the Unicorn, Sew-and-So and Wysteria.

Spike the Dragon and two ladybugs add to the show's cast of characters.

"You always know when you are the child's favorite pony. They'll be screaming your name," said Caouette, who notes that the costumes are very expressive, with moving mouths and eyes. "The kids know these characters very well."

Caouette and other cast members try to reward that enthusiasm with a wink or other gesture aimed right at the child.

"Everyone in the cast is extremely hard working and very talented," he said. `It's a very high energy show, but all of us really enjoy doing it.'

Caouette said My Little Pony is all about letting little girls be little girls, but he thinks the show also has value as a way to expose young people to live theater.

"Today, there are a lot of toys that urge little girls to grow up too fast," he said. "To come and see the show, you see the ponies singing and playing and it's something they can relate to. ...

`The kids really love the world of My Little Pony. They are so captivated the whole time. To know you are bringing something special into these kids' lives even for an hour and a half, it's a great feeling."


My Little Pony Live!

What: `The World's Biggest Tea Party'

When: 7 p.m. today; 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Silva Concert Hall, Hult Center, Seventh Avenue and Willamette Street

Tickets: $14 to $22 with a limited number of $27 Gold Circle seats available; opening night, non-Golden Circle seats are $14
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Title Annotation:Entertainment; A musical based on the popular toy animals has five shows this weekend
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Mar 2, 2007
Previous Article:BRIEFLY.
Next Article:Festival takes the high road.

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