It’s the music video that has garnered over 5 billion views on YouTube. It’s this generation’s version of the macarena. Ubiquitous now for parents and kids alike, it’s on toys, backpacks, clothing and Kellogg’s cereal boxes. It’s even being used as a resource for speech therapists due to its simple and catchy combination of learning nouns and verbs. It’s the song that turned what is arguably the most deadly marine species into a friendly yellow dancing cartoon. It’s Baby Shark. And now, it’s a live show.
Baby Shark will be “doo-doo”ing more than 100 shows across North America for the next eight months. I got the chance to attend the New York show with my kids and strapped in for a night of Baby Sharking.
Many friends asked—in advance of the show: “What will they do for 80 minutes? Just sing ‘Baby Shark’ over and over again until the song has been drilled into parents’ heads even more than it already is?” I was about to find out.
Once the audience was seated, the house lights came down and the stage was bathed in an ocean-blue light, performers holding bubble jellyfish puppets with streaming tentacles appeared onstage and then bobbed their way through the aisles of seats. Bubbles appeared on the screen onstage and more octopi swam across the stage, faster and faster in a frenzied whirlpool of motion. The increasing energy mirrored the energy in the seats, as children looked left and right trying to catch the first glimpse of “Ollie” (also known as “Baby Shark”), the celebrity of the night. Parents aimed their cell phones at the stage for the first sighting, then their kids’ faces—unsure which way to point.
Courtesy of Baby Shark Live! Ollie the Baby Shark and Pinkfong during "Baby Shark Live!"
The hype continued when the first appearance of Baby Shark was in silhouette form, against a sun-shaped yellow background. Jets of fog shot upward from the stage. Though his shark-arazzi fans weren’t yet able to see his toothy grin, they were bouncing in their seats wild with anticipation. When it was clear they couldn’t contain it any longer, the lights went up and Baby Shark and his posse of blue-clad backup dancers leapt out into a dance routine that might even give some tips for Britney Spears, underneath a banner of glittery shark’s teeth while the letters S-H-A-R-K were spelled out in circles behind him on-screen.
It wasn’t long before Baby Shark’s pink fox pal, Pinkfong (synonymous with the company responsible for Baby Shark), made a separate appearance as well, with her friend, Hogi, a mint toothpaste-colored hedgehog. The albeit-loose plotline of the show was centered around the three of them being separated from one another, and Pinkfong and Hogi cycling through various landscapes in order to reconnect.
Courtesy of "Baby Shark Live!" Ollie as "Baby Shark" and Pinkfong with Baby Shark's family during "Baby Shark Live!"
They traveled through ocean, city and jungle habitats on their quest to connect with Baby Shark, weaving in the greatest hits of kids’ songs: “Wheels on the Bus” (Pinkfong is the driver!) and “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” (Hogi makes a cameo as the doctor who treats the monkeys).
Hogi and Baby Shark finally met for the much-awaited Baby Shark song and the crowd went nuts. Seats vibrated as children, including my own, wildly jumped up and down, there were plastic glowing wands, parents and kids nibbled, chomped, and shark-bit their way through the introductions of Baby, Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, and Grandpa Shark.
At intermission, throngs of audience members ran to the lobby to grab pre-packaged PB&J sandwiches, sausages, popcorn, goldfish and other kid-friendly snacks for the kids, while parents “hydrated” on $16 adult drinks (yes, there's booze in there).
After intermission, the characters carried on with more kid-favorite songs before finishing in epic form with a reprise of “Baby Shark.” This time, however, it was dialed up about ten notches. Inflatable balls were batted about over the heads of audience members, streamers came down, and the whole theater erupted into the song and dance. Children whose bedtimes had long since passed got a second wind throughout the sensory overload in what can only be described as a kiddie rave.
Courtesy of Sarina Finkelstein Hogi, Ollie and Pinkfong
Courtesy of Sarina Finkelstein "Baby Shark Live" Finale
After the show, there was a meet-n-greet with Baby Shark and Pinkfong, and families who had passes for it lined up on one side of the theatre for the chance to walk on stage and snap some photos with the characters. This was about when you could have set your watch for the kids’ breakdowns, as some kids (like mine) took off running through the theater seats after refusing to stay in line, others cried from exhaustion and parents whipped out cell phone games and tried to come up with lame in-line entertainment for the kids that hadn’t yet self-combusted. The banter between the parents was the most entertaining, as people discussed the origin of the characters. One [overly-obsessed] parent explained that “Pinkfong” was not just a pink fox, he was an alien. Each parent sheepishly admitted they couldn’t believe they were here at the show, but they were all happily surprised with the performance—especially after seeing their kids' reactions. And, for the select few that stayed the course and actually got their kids on stage within feet of Baby Shark and Pinkfong, the smiles were worth it.
Baby Shark Live tickets are on sale now and playing throughout 2020. Parents, start working out your chomping arm muscles now!