Round Room will be the first major family show promoter to return to the stage in the post-pandemic world, announcing more than 20 theatrical dates for Baby Shark Live, a North America tour based around the characters and music spawned from the popular kid’s song that’s generated 8.1 billion views, making it the most viewed video in the history of YouTube. That video was produced by South Korean education brand Pinkfong and its parent company StartupmartStudy, which have built a video and content franchise around their version of Baby Shark.
“We haven’t seen ticket sales like that for any of our kids’ shows,” says Stephen, Shaw founder and principal at Round Room, which first announced the tour for Baby Shark in 2019. But the tour was short lived and in March of 2020 was pulled off the road due to COVID-19.
“There’s no question that the pandemic was difficult for many industries including the live entertainment industry,” Shaw says. “We are incredibly fortunate to be in a good position to weather the storm thanks to a very supportive parent company and these past 16 months have been a very productive time. We’ve had the opportunity to recharge and think creatively about re-energizing our productions.”
That includes narrative changes and song rewrites, as well as recasting certain roles and making script rewrites.
Round Room was one of the first family show producers to build a live show around a series created on YouTube for preschool audiences — most family show producers have tended to stick with licensing television and motion picture content. The pandemic created an opportunity to look at new IP that’s been freed up during the pandemic and license holders have started to direct their attention to Round Room because we have significant expertise in this field and a lot of stability.”
Working with YouTube content does have its challenges — in the fall of 2019, the launch of the Blippi Live tour drew negative reaction from parents who said the show was misleadingly marketed — many parents expected the show to be led by creator Stevin John, who has played Blippi since 2014, and not an actor cast to play the role of Blippi.
“We are very grateful to Blippi’s creator for developing this amazing character,” Shaw says. “Blippi is a character and that is what strongly resonated with kids and not the person behind the character,” Shaw tells Billboard.
Of course it’s the parents of Blippi’s fans who actually buy tickets for the live show and many complained that the character, much like JoJo Siwa, is inexplicably tied to a real life characters. Shaw says that over time, those feelings will change.
“The actors behind the characters of Elmo and Mickey Mouse have changed over the years. But children’s love for those characters hasn’t been any different and that’s the same reaction that we’ve seen with Blippi,” he tells us.
Round Room will also tour the Nickelodeon-owned PJ Masks cartoon series and recently acquired the licensing rights to tour Peppa Pig from Hasbro, which acquired Round Room’s parent company eOne in 2019.