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Disney Junior brings princess, Never Land to Oakland's Pete

| Tuesday, July 29, 2014, 9:07 p.m.
Disney Junior on Tour
Ashley Budinick plays Sofia in Disney Junior Live on Tour's 'Pirate & Princess Adventure,” playing four times Aug. 1 and 2 in Oakland.

Disney Junior characters Jake and his Never Land Pirates and princess Sofia the First will be converting from the television screen to the live stage at the Petersen Events Center this week, for Pittsburgh's first Disney Junior Live show.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse will lead the audience on two separate adventures with Disney Junior Live on Tour's “Pirate & Princess Adventure,” playing four times Aug. 1 and 2 in Oakland.

After an interactive pre-show with Doc McStuffins, when kids and parents will sing “I Feel Better” as the Doc cares for toys, the show will move into Enchancia, with Sofia's adventure. Never Land, with Jake and his crew, will follow with a separate story.

Ashley Budinick, who plays Sofia, says just like episodes of the television show, Sofia goes on an adventure involving magic and faces a challenge.

In this story, Sofia has a magic amulet that puts her in touch with other princesses like Cinderella and Snow White. They help Sofia solve her problem — preparing for a friendship festival and not knowing what gift to bring. Budinick says the kids in the audience will get involved by shouting suggestions for gifts.

“One person said that she would make a pie for everyone,” says the 25-year-old actress from of Brick, N.J. “I heard (kids) scream out that they would make cut-out snowflakes. Someone would make clothes for their friends. They shout out whatever comes to their minds.”

Some of the audience's ideas nail it: Many have suggested cupcakes, which is one of Sofia's preferred ideas, Budinick says.

“I think that the interaction really helps, because it makes (the kids) feel that they're a part of it with us. ... They're not just sitting there and watching it,” says Budinick, who joins the second act playing one of the pirates.

While the performers play the characters physically, a recorded soundtrack with voiceovers provides the dialogue.

“We want everyone to feel like they're hearing the same voice,” Budinick says. “We would like to make sure that the kids identify as much as they can with what they're seeing. It brings the Disney magic out to them.”

“We make it really fun for the audience and really fun for all of us portraying our characters, as well,” Budinick says.

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

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