Pint-sized theatergoers won't have to stay in their seats when the PAW Patrol comes to Fayetteville.
"We want it to be incredibly interactive, so when your kid enters the venue, they're given a pup tag, which makes them an honorary member of the PAW Patrol," says Kirstin Henry, one of the many actors bringing "PAW Patrol Live! Heroes Unite!" to the Walton Arts Center stage Sept. 29-Oct. 1.
"There's many moments where we say 'Hold up your pup badges! Stomp your feet! Get up out of your seats and dance with us!'" she says, adding "as safely as possible!"
For the live show, "Robo Dog gets to make his stage debut, which is very exciting, but then you have your original pups like Marshall, Rubble, Chase, Rocky, Zuma and Skye, the special appearances from Liberty and Everest, and even Tracker says hello as well," Henry says. And, of course, an exciting rescue ensues.
"Mayor Humdinger has kidnapped Robo Dog, so it is up to Ryder and the pups to capture the clones, rescue Robo Dog and learn what it means to be a top hero," she explains.
Creating the animated show on stage is a "big feat," Henry adds, with the giant dog puppets, the colorful sets and the sheer energy, but "we had a brilliant team of minds make it so that children can really feel like they're watching their heroes on stage."
Since the show is in Baum Walker Hall at the Walton Arts Center, audiences can count on plenty of music, too.
"There's all new music in this production that you normally wouldn't hear in the show. You obviously have your PAW Patrol theme song, but outside of that, we also have some great new music," Henry adds.
"My favorite part about the show has to be how excited the kids get to see someone -- or some pup -- that they look up to on stage. It's really wonderful to be able to see their faces just light up," she says.
"It's a blast! We're really lucky that we get to do a show that is this much fun on its own, but then adding the families that come and see it, it just adds another fun element."
Henry says she is enjoying her second tour with PAW Patrol, and this is her first foray into children's theater. However, it's sort of a full circle moment for a kid who grew up backstage.
"My mom had been doing theater since she was 8 years old," Henry explains. "So I was always the kid that would come with my mom to rehearsals and see all the different shows."
Once she got into high school, that theater bug bit Henry, and she started acting in productions just like mom in Chardon, Ohio.
"I went to Kent State University, and I studied there for four years, and got a BFA from there for musical theater [in 2022]. Then I got really lucky, and I was able to join this company," she concludes.
Her previous theater experience includes starring roles in "West Side Story" and "Guys and Dolls." Getting ready for an audience full of children is a different process.
"Obviously, the audience that we're performing for is very different -- you don't see a lot of 2- to 6-year-olds coming to see 'West Side Story,'" she laughs. "But the enjoyment is evident every time a kids sees their favorite pup on stage, which is different from 'grown up shows.'"
She says that the older kids have found a little something for themselves in the show.
"Because of the new music and the clever dialogue, you see that it reaches more than just that age range. You have parents cracking up about something or being in awe of what we're able to produce on stage. It's for all ages really."
PAW Patrol Live!
WHEN -- 6 p.m. Sept. 29; 10 a.m. & 2 p.m. Sept. 30; and 2 p.m. Oct. 1
WHERE -- Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville
COST -- $29-$129
INFO -- waltonartscenter.org
BONUS -- Purchase a VIP Package and become a Very Important Pup. The VIP package includes a premium seat and exclusive meet & greet with PAW Patrol characters after the show. Each adult & child (all ages) in a group must have a VIP ticket. (Limited availability.)