Pinkalicious & Peterrific will be PBS Kids’ first show to focus solely on the arts. As we’ve posted in the past, the show will put a strong emphasis on educating its young audience in discovering solutions to problems in imaginative ways. Each 11-minute episode of Pinkalicious & Peterrific will encourage kids to kids to engage in self-expression and the creative arts, covering areas such as music, dance, theater and visual arts. And each episode will have one live-action interstitial, where real-life kids create art, as well as profiles of professional artists. Renowned musicians such as blues recording artist Vaneese Thomas, dancers such as New York City Ballet principal Amar Ramasar, and author-illustrator Victoria Kann are among the artists featured.
During the TCA Winter Tour, Kayla Erickson, who lends her voice as Pinkalicious, spoke to us and a group of journalists about the upcoming show.
Plenty Of Material To Work With
For those who may not be familiar with the series, Pinkalicious & Peterrific is actually based on a series of books written and illustrated by Victoria Kann. “Well, when it came time to adapt the books, we had such a great wealth of material to work with, obviously fantastic characters, beautiful look, great stories, and but we knew that we needed to, sort of, expand the world a bit more in order to, sort of, carry 80 stories, which is a typical first season for PBS,” said Pinkalicious & Peterrific executive producer Dorothea Gillim.
To help carry some of the extra weight each episode has, the team added a few new characters, Jasmine and Rafael, to help our title leads solve some of the problems they will encounter in the show. In addition, they’ve also added two adult supporting characters to show some of its younger viewers that you can grow up to have a job in an artistic field.
With the number of fantastical elements that are inspired by the book, Gillim, also added in some real-world solutions. Gillim provided an example of that, which you may see in an actual episode. “Peter builds a block tower to the moon, but he has to solve his own problem in how to get down. So while it’s this aspirational world, it’s also a great vehicle to show kids how to be creative problem solvers. “
The ten-year-old Erickson, who provides the voice of Pinkalicious, said that she has many favorite episodes, but the one that is close to her is titled “Sand Place.” “It taught kids how to be extra creative with things, with your surroundings, which I love,” said Erickson.
Erickson Joins The Cast
Erickson, who lives in New York, was inspired to become an actress at a very early age. At the age of three, she was already putting on little plays and playing dress up. And she would create characters and do little impressions of different things that she would dress up as. But the thing she loved to do then and still loves to do now, is watch cartoons. “I love cartoons and the behind the scenes about it, and everything about cartoons I think is amazing,” said Erickson. “And I was watching a cartoon, and I told my parents I wanted to be on the screen. And that’s how all of this happened. And now I’m here, and I love it. I love it with the bottom of my heart. It’s amazing.”
When assembling the cast of the show, Gillim said it was important to find the talent that could voice the role and sing. But she also wanted to have a show that could relate to kids, which is why she searched for young children like Erickson. “We needed a cast who could sing, and we also wanted to have very natural sounding kids in our cast as well,” said Gillim.
They auditioned over a hundred kids who came from all over the country from states like Philadelphia and Connecticut, in New York, before they chose Erickson. Gilliam then explained the process of narrowing it down to the six finalists before they decided on Erickson. “We narrowed it down to six kids, six Pinkaliciouses and six Peters, and we brought them back to callbacks,” Gillim said. “And I paired up different combinations, and when Kayla was together with Jaden Waldman, the boy who plays Peter, there was just instant chemistry. It was as if they had known each other, right?”
Erickson responded with “that was definitely true. We were friends immediately. When we were at the callback, we actually ended up sitting next to each other, and that’s how we made friends. So we were all pretty much friends before we went into the room. So that was really nice. That definitely helped a lot.”
Premise Of The Show
The show wants to promote solving solutions with creativity. So in addition to dance and illustration, there will also be sculpturing. In one of the stories, Pinkalicious builds a “snow fairy,” with the pink snow that has just fallen in Pinkville. And while the Pinkalicious gang is able to “pat and mold and texture materials,” with snow, the team have to get together to figure out how to save their newly built snow fairy when the sun comes out and warms things up.
Another aspect of the show is to get audiences to appreciate all aspects of the art form. In one story, Pinkalicious’ inventor mother loves all things glitter, but she does not. However, the story will get the young audiences to see that you can appreciate other people’s love and responses to arts and materials.
The live-action interstitials in Pinkalicious & Peterrific will teach its young audience about a particular art form from the real-life people who practice it. One of them will even feature Hahn, the author, and illustrator behind Pinkalicious. But not all interstitials are designed the same. Some of our interstitials are profiling actual artists, and then some of them are just with kids doing activities, art-related activities that anybody can do at home,” Gillim said.
Pink Is Here To Stay
With things becoming more and more progressive, the color pink has become a color that everyone, of all genders, can like. It is no longer associated with just girls. And Gillim hopes that they do not get away from that. But she acknowledges the real-life stigma that came with liking the color pink. “The real issue has to do with the fact that the ways those girls have been depicted on television have been so limited, you know. There’s that stereotype of the pink-loving girl who is into princesses or in appearance or being superficial or maybe not that smart. And one of the great things about Pinkalicious is she likes pink. She likes sparkly shoes. Sometimes she wears a tiara.”
Crafting An Episode
Gillim says it takes about nine months to complete an episode from start to finish. But before they can start a new one, she, Kann, and head writer Belinda Ward get together to discuss stories and story ideas. From there it goes to animating and recording. While it may take nine months to complete each story, some take longer because they need more attention.
Though the books are geared towards a broader young audience, Gillim says that the target age that they are aiming for is three to five-year-olds. “We know just anecdotally that kids tend to stay with the books well after their reading level goes up because they love the books and the characters so much so. But the show is very much focused for three to five-year-olds,” Gillim said
Pinkalicious and Peterrific will air on PBS Kids February 19, 2018.
Photos supplied by WGBH/PBS.