Singer/actor Maddie Drees kept her first big performance – a solo in the first grade Christmas pageant – a secret from her parents until the moment itself.
But after her “debut,” Drees’ parents put her in voice lessons to encourage her newfound love of performing, and she hasn’t looked back since.
“I was hooked from the get go, from elementary school,” she said during a tour stop in Kennewick.
Drees’ résumé includes roles in regional productions of “Mary Poppins,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “The Polar Express” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”
She also performed in “You Can’t Take It With You,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “Bonnie & Clyde” while in college at Kent State University.
But since September, Drees, in her national tour debut, has been performing the role of Skye, a fearless, loyal cockapoo, in “Paw Patrol Live!: The Great Pirate Adventure.” The show, based on the TV series airing on Nick Jr., comes to the First Interstate Center for the Arts on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In “Paw Patrol Live: The Great Pirate Adventure,” Mayor Goodway (Keshana Cook) and her trusty chicken Chickaletta are preparing for a Pirate Day celebration in Adventure Bay.
But when Cap’n Turbot (Mitchell Aiello) falls into a mysterious cavern, it’s up to the PAW Patrol – Chase (Alex Anthony Garcia), Marshall (Keegan Michael Riojas), Rubble (Brett Hennessey Jones), Skye (Drees), Rocky (Shelby Bosse) and Zuma (Kendra Johnson), plus new pup Tracker (Manuel Torres III) – to save the day.
While rescuing Cap’n Turbot, the pups discover a secret pirate map and set off to find the treasure. But pesky Mayor Humdinger (Casey Andrews) wants to find the treasure for his town, Foggy Bottom.
With the help of the audience, who learn pirate catchphrases, how to dance the pirate boogie and solve picture puzzles, the PAW Patrol will hopefully come out on top.
“Our show, ‘Paw Patrol Live: The Great Pirate Adventure,’ it’s not only entertaining but it’s educating, just like the TV show,” Drees said. “No job is too big, no pup is too small. It shares all the lessons about good citizenship, problem solving, the importance of teamwork, and the characters are lovable and relatable and always willing to go out of their way to help others.”
The show features two acts and an intermission.
Drees first got on the radar of the show’s creators when she attended a unified audition called Unified Professional Theatre Auditions in Memphis, Tennessee, while in college.
At unified auditions, performers are seen by representatives of theater companies, cruise lines and theme parks at the same time.
After graduating from Kent State, Drees moved to New York City and was eventually asked to play Skye on this tour.
Drees had performed in several children’s theater productions that combined education and entertainment, and she was excited for the opportunity to do so on a national level.
“It gives them an appreciation of music, dance, art and storytelling, which is the biggest thing, and they get to use their imagination,” she said. “I think the most rewarding audience I will ever have is young children because they are so willing to go on this journey with you and they’re ready to go and imagine.”
During “The Great Pirate Adventure,” Drees wears a costume inspired by Japanese bunraku puppetry.
Learning to maneuver the giant costume has been a learning experience, but Drees said, once she got the hang of it, the costume, singing and dancing all went hand in hand.
She said the larger-than-life costumes help make the show feel even more special for the children in the audience.
“They’re encouraged to take a very active role in each performance by us making them feel like they’re a part of the team,” Drees said.
Drees considers the opportunity to portray Skye a win-win because she gets to travel to new places with her fellow cast members while bringing a beloved character to life in a show she said is “a paw-some adventure for your whole family.”
“It’s super rewarding to watch the joy and excitement on their faces each performance,” Drees said. “It’s an honor to be cast as one of these childhood heroes and role models and to be able to bring that to life on stage for them.”
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