"VeggieTales Live" Concert Review


VeggieTales Live


VeggieTales Live!: God Made You Special
3/10/12, at Branch Creek Community Church in Harleysville, PA

Parents young and old know quite well how hard it is to find good childrens entertainment. To make matters more difficult, good Christian childrens entertainment just makes it even more difficult. However, ever since the inception of VeggieTales, parents have had unique, funny, and wholesome entertainment for the kids that is altogether inspirational and enjoyable for kids of all ages. Over the past few years, the Big Idea team has taken the show on the road and the latest “VeggieTales Live!” show, titled “God Made You Special,” was our first experience catching this show on tour.

The reason we’ve yet to see this tour has a lot to do with the fact that we haven’t been parents until now. Our seventeen-month old son, Will, is not only old enough to enjoy entertainment like this, but he’s quite the VeggieTales fanatic. Ever since he was just a couple months old, there’s been something about these animated vegetables that could snap him out of a frantic crying session and calm his little nerves (and therefore calming ours). However, lugging a little one to a live concert is no easy task. We arrived at the March 10th afternoon performance of VeggieTales Live! just as it was beginning, causing us to miss the first few minutes, unfortunately. There were two performances on this particular Saturday at Branch Creek Community Church in Harleysville, PA. We attended the 2pm show, while the 7pm show had already been sold out. I ran inside to get our tickets and could hear the show starting with the VeggieTales theme song (Which our son loves, so I’m disappointed we missed it), and left to help my wife get him changed and out of the car. I returned at one point and could hear “Dance of the Cucumber,” before leaving again and returning finally with our son to the tune of the “Belly Button Song.” He had been a bit upset over not getting a long enough nap, but his eyes lit up like Christmas morning upon seeing the expansive Veggies merch table and then hearing the “Belly Button Song” in the distance as we approached the church sanctuary.

Basically, the “plot” of this VeggieTales Live! show is that there appears to have been a robbery at the Silly Song Factory and reporter Missy Montgomery of Bumblyburg Channel 7 News is investigating in hopes to find the “Silly Song Bandit.” In the process, with the help of her friend Quiggly–and our favorite vegetables–they continue recovering the audience’s favorite Silly Songs, and playing them in the process. The show opened with the VeggieTales theme song and continued with “The Water Buffalo Song,” “Dance of the Cucumber” and “The Belly Button Song.” After we sat down, there seemed to be a performance of one of the Princess & The PopStar songs (I didn’t know it very well, but it sounded familiar), sung by one of the girls on stage, and then they began one of our favorite Veggie Silly Songs, “Monkey.” Right afterward, the lights grew dim and the vibe grew ominous as the scene in between the songs turned to a setup for “God Is Bigger Than The Boogie Man.” Our son, Will, seemed to get a little scared by the way the characters were acting, but Jr. Asparagus’s song was familiar to him and eased his mood. From there, though, the show never got scary or creepy again, and it was smooth sailing.

“Endangered Love” was next, with Larry The Cucumber coming out on stage to sing the song, while some dancers performed around him. They then claimed to have located a song from the 80s and Jr. asked the audience to pitch in and sing along for the next one, a cover of the classic “Shout!”. At this point, once the song concluded, there was a brief message from Missy about World Vision and she announced a twenty minute intermission. To be honest, as important as what World Vision is, it seemed really strange to do a promo for the organization in the middle of a childrens show. The parents are the only ones who can actually pay to sponsor a child, so all the children can do to help is encourage their parents to sponsor a child for them. However, most of the children in the audience were very, very young, and to have them sit through a brief message about sponsoring a poor child, followed by a unusually long twenty-minute intermission, seemed to be a bit much. However, the intermission wasn’t a complete loss for young VeggieTales fans. If anyone remained in the sanctuary during that time, they were treated to a series of videos on the screens that made up the stage backdrop. First was the original “Yodeling Veterinarian” Silly Song video, followed by some trivia (mostly about World Vision) and then the video for “Larry Learns To Listen,” followed by more trivia, then “Song of the Cebu,” more trivia, and lastly, “I Love My Lips.” It was great to have the VeggieTales music continue during the long break, especially for those not wanting to brave the crowd in the lobby and just remain in their seats.

When the show finally resumed, Missy had Pa Grape appear via video chat to help Larry and Mr. Lunt perform “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything” theme (unfortunately, the costume for Pa Grape was not on this tour; it was just Larry, Bob, Jr., Mr. Lunt and Jerry Gourd). Another favorite, the goofy tune “Pants,” was next, as the dancers all donned crazy-patterned slacks to dance around in. One of the dancers even started doing flips and break-dancing on the stage. It was pretty impressive. “Pizza Angel” followed, featuring Larry The Cucumber and a series of dancers wearing pizza-printed skirts, and then Larry, Bob and Junior came out to do a cover of “Walking on Sunshine.” The story took us to the next highlight, the fan favorite “The Hairbrush Song,” which was presented in a dance remix form and featured the use of a huge hairbrush prop on stage. For this song, some of the singers and dancers hopped off the stage to interact with the kids standing up front. Soon after, the real Silly Song Bandit was revealed! (I won’t spoil that here) “I Am A Promise” closed the show before an encore of the “Broadway” version of the VeggieTales theme song served as the perfect send-off (and it earned a smile from our little guy). Some of the dancers dressed up as vegetables to accompany everyone on stage for the big finale (with bubbles spewing out from bubblemaker machines on stage!).

With the intermission included, the show lasted about an hour and a half and went by super fast, although the VeggieTales Live! crew did a great job packing plenty of music and fun into that time. The song selection was good and a nice diverse mix of silly songs, regular songs, and cover songs. Personally, I could have done without the lengthy intermission or the seemingly out of place World Vision plug (There just has to be a better way to present it. Perhaps as literature to the parents when they arrive?), but overall it’s an experience that any fan of the show must have. Also, if you’re a parent looking for some fun activity to share with your family, this is it. It’s lighthearted and it’s spiritual without being over-the-top, and just a great deal of fun for everyone!

John DiBiase, 3/22/12



VeggieTales Live!: God Made You Special

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VeggieTales Live**: (March 10, 2012 photos by JFH, Approved by Big Idea Entertainment)


VeggieTales Live: Official Promotional Images Provided By Big Idea Entertainment

VeggieTales: Greatest Hits

Greatest Hits

Album length: 16 tracks: 39 minutes, 22 seconds
Street Date: March 11, 2008

Since the early 90’s, the folks at Big Idea Productions have been entertaining and teaching children about Biblical themes and values with the help of little computer animated vegetables. The music in each VeggieTales episodes is frequently clever and touching and a big part of driving home the moral of each story. People of all ages have grown to love and be touched by the Veggie songs, so there really is no difficulty in coming up with selections for a Greatest Hits. However, narrowing down the list of the best to just fifteen is another story.

Greatest Hits isn’t the first VeggieTales collection, but its song list is a wonderful testament to the heart and fun of the show. To make the CD packaging compliment this release, the creators include fun facts about each song inside the disc jacket. The facts offer insight on each tune, from the controversy surrounding the original “Bunny Song” to revealing the personal touches that went into the prayerful ballad “My Day” from Jr.’s voice, Lisa Vischer. This collection, from its simple-yet-delectable art direction to details like these song facts, feels like just the right homage is being paid to a children’s show that has made such an impact and established quite the legacy since its 1993 debut.

Every Veggie fan will have their own idea of how a Greatest Hits compilation should look when it comes to song selection. The project appropriately opens with the theme song, but reaches far back to the show’s humble beginnings right away by continuing on with older songs like “I Can Be Your Friend,” “Stand!,” “God Is Bigger,” and “The Hairbrush Song.” Some of the best Silly Songs make their appearance here – from the very first in “The Water Buffalo Song” to “His Cheeseburger,” “Song of the Cebu,” and “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.” But considering how the fun and the serious need to be represented on a project like this, omissions will have to be made. So songs like “I Love My Lips,” “The Dance Of The Cucumber,” and the newer instant classic “Monkey” won’t be found here. Still, what is included are all gems, even if trading the “Thankfulness Song Medley” or the fun but unnecessary bonus mash-up “Foreign Exchange Veggies” (where we hear German, Japanese, and Spanish versions of their songs in a medley) would have freed up some space to include them. As an added bonus, however, the disc also works in your CD-Rom and includes two music videos for your viewing pleasure – “The Dance Of The Cucumber” and “The Yodeling Veterinarian Of The Alps.” The video quality is good, although they display pretty small — not much better than when Audio/Visual CD’s first debuted in the mid-90’s — and there is surprisingly no way to watch them full-screen. Also, watching these videos just makes me wish they were included in the audio portion.

VeggieTales’ Greatest Hits is a delightful little collection that offers some of the best the show has produced to date. The compilation is fashioned perfectly for the kiddies with songs that address Biblical life lessons like “Big Things, Too,” “God Is Bigger,” “I Can Be Your Friend,” “Thankfulness” and “My Day,” and still leave room for good clean fun with the Silly Songs. While an extra disc may have solved the problem of missing some more fan favorites, the attention to detail with the little song facts in the packaging is just one of the things that makes Greatest Hits a fun experience for any VeggieTales fan. Who knows? Maybe we’ll get a Volume Two someday.
– Review date: 3/11/08, written by John DiBiase of Jesusfreakhideout.com

VeggieTales: Christian Hit Music

Christian Hit Music

Album length: 15 tracks: 56 minutes, 31 seconds
Street Date: October 2, 2007

In 2002, our favorite animated vegetables made their debut in Christian rock music with their cover of Relient K’s “Breakdown,” while the band performed the theme for “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.” Since then, Christian artists have covered some of VeggieTales‘ classic tunes, but never have the Veggie voices returned the favor… that is, until this Fall’s release of Christian Hit Music.

Christian Hit Music assembles fifteen Christian pop, rock, contemporary, pop/punk, and even hip hop tunes onto one disc for a healthy dose of vegetable fun. Each track features different or all of the VeggieTales characters on it, and four select songs even feature the original artists’ voices as well. The record gets off to a bumpy start with a cover of Audio Adrenaline’s 1993 smash hit, “Big House.” The band remains a personal favorite so the idea of them dueting with VeggieTales is exciting, but anyone who knows Audio Adrenaline knows what exactly makes up this particular collaboration. With vocalist Mark Stuart having since essentially lost the smooth and signature pipes he first sung “Big House” with in the early nineties, this recording is merely those originally recorded vocals with our Veggie friends added in. It’s kind of a disappointment knowing the band had nothing to do with this recording. The next collaboration is a fun treatment of Newsboys’ “Shine,” which features Larry The Cucumber hamming it up with the band’s original. Steven Curtis Chapman sings the majority of his appearance on “Dive,” but the highlight is an additional little exchange between Chapman and a few of the characters. But surprisingly, the best of the artist/Veggie mixes is when Jr. Asparagus duets with Christian music veteran Amy Grant for her classic, “Baby Baby.” The vocals are clearly re-recorded recently and feature interaction between the two – even clarifying the meaning of the song with it having been originally written by Amy for her daughter.

The rest of the disc is a series of hits and misses – or just ultimately renditions that work better than others. One of the most fun and entertaining cuts is a rocking cover of Switchfoot’s “Meant To Live,” performed by none other than the French peas. Although the vocals are mixed a bit too low, there’s nothing quite like hearing a serious rock song sung by tiny voices with a French accent. Mr. Lunt sings a humorous and moody version of Jars Of Clay’s “Flood,” complete with an accordian solo by Pa Grape (much to Lunt’s discontent). Larry and Lunt share the TobyMac original, “Made To Love,” while Larry tackles an infectiously enjoyable romp through Relient K’s “Sadie Hawkins Dance.” Finally, the equally adorable and amusing rendition of Michael W. Smith’s “Place In This World,” sung by Jr. Asparagus, serves as a nice little finale for the project. The rest of the tracks just don’t seem to cut it as well as the aforementioned ones. Giving Mr. Lunt the reigns for dc Talk’s cover of Charlie Peacock’s “In The Light” doesn’t seem to fit, while Larry’s take on Chris Rice’s “Smellin’ Coffee” is just okay. The most unsual song choice for the album, however, is probably MercyMe’s “I Can Only Imagine,” which features Jr. Asparagus on vocals for the tender worship song. It’s difficult to take anything any of the characters sing all too seriously, and hearing Jr. sing “I Can Only Imagine” may be cute, but it seems a bit silly for such a song that isn’t.

All in all, Christian Hit Music is a fun project for fans of VeggieTales and Christian music. It’s as much a novelty for music fans – although most likely more so – as the 2004 VeggieTales song tribute from CCM artists, Veggie Rocks!. Just four tracks of artists singing with the Veggies is a bit of a tease, especially the interactive collaboration between Grant and Jr, and it would have been great to hear more of that. While the tracklist could have been trimmed for a stronger song selection, there are enough hit Christian songs out there for the potential for more releases, and here’s to hoping we see more fun and creative Children’s releases like this one in the near future.
– Review date: 11/7/07, written by John DiBiase of Jesusfreakhideout.com

VeggieTales Sing-Alongs: Junior's Bedtime Songs

VeggieTales Sing-Alongs: Junior’s Bedtime Songs

Album length: 15 tracks: 36 minutes, 9 seconds
Street Date: May 21, 2002

I suppose it’s a good sign, as a reviewer, that a bedtime songs album would begin putting you to sleep as you give it a listen. Released alongside a Sunday School collection of songs, the Veggie Tales crew have also put together a collection of tender lullabies entitled Junior’s Bedtime Songs, sung by the little asparagus himself. The project opens with Junior begging his mother to stay up a little longer, which she lets him do, but with the agreement that he would sing bedtime songs while in bed. “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” is the sweet opener that sets the album’s mood, a beautifully arranged project to comfort a child before setting sail off to dreamland.

Junior’s voice hasn’t sounded cuter than on this project. Among the 15 songs, the styles and vocals tend to vary a little. “A Bushel and a Peck” is a short, more upbeat tune, while “(They Long to Be) Close To You” is a soft ballad featuring Junior’s mother’s vocals accompanied by a children’s choir set to a piano and harmonica backdrop. “Are You Sleeping?” is a cute traditional tune where Junior leads a children’s choir in a repetitive chorus that has been updated VeggieTales style.

Junior’s Bedtime Songs is an excellent collection of soothing tunes for your child to enjoy before bedtime. A cure for restless nights and a great way to set your mind on the things of Heaven before a night’s rest. Hey, I think I’ll go try this out myself. Night, folks!

– Review date: 5/20/02, written by John DiBiase of Jesusfreakhideout.com