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CSU's summer season includes "Dora the Explorer"

"Dora the Explorer" is one of Nickelodeon's biggest hits. The television show features an 8-year-old girl who goes on adventures with the help of her map and bottomless backpack, along with her cousin, Diego, and a bunch of animal friends.

"It's so popular," said director Brenda Ito, a Columbus State University theater professor and the department's theater education coordinator. It's part of the CSU department of theater's summer theater repertory program.

She joked that as popular as "Blue's Clues" was last summer, "Dora" will have it beat.

In "Dora's Pirate Adventure," the little girl gets her gang together to go to Treasure Island to find the treasure that Swiper the Fox stole. They have to fight a crew of Pirate Piggies and make sure that Swiper doesn't steal their boat.

Along the way, this interactive show features plenty of songs, dances and a chance for the little ones to learn a little Spanish. They'll also even learn to read a map.

The show includes songs like "Everyone's Excited 'Cause Everyone's Invited," "Yo Ho Ho, Pirate Piggies," "Stop and "Think," "Swiper's Song," "Dancing Mountain" and "We Did It."

But Pirate Piggies?

"Why not Pirate Piggies? They're a lot of fun," Ito said.

"We're not scary at all," said Nic Sostillio, who is playing the Pirate Captain. He's joined by Paige Hutchinson and Abby Jennings as Pirate Piggies. Dina Carl, Cheryl Mullis and Abby Hilton round out the crew, manipulating the Pirate Piggie Puppets.

The star of the show, Dora, is played by Rylee Bunton. The petite Bunton is once again playing a young child, having played the boy, Noah, in "Caroline, or Change" last semester.

Ito laughs as she said "Rylee will one day play an adult." Another of the cast said maybe she'll play a teenager instead of an elementary school-age kid.

Dora is clearly the leader of her rag-tag gang, Bunton said.

Diego, played by Steven Daniels, is a little older than his cousin, Dora, but is a follower.

But like Dora, Diego is "very adventurous and optimistic," Daniels said. "He really loves animals and he tries to love everyone."

Bunton and Daniels are the only humans depicted in the 50-minute show that's aimed at the pre-school and lower elementary grades.

The others are animals, including their best friends, Boots the Monkey (played by Alden Burroughs) and Baby Jaguar (played by Kasie Slay).

"Boots gives her (Dora) advice," said Burroughs as he accompanies her on every adventure. He also makes Dora and the audience laugh as "comic relief."

While Boots is comic relief, Baby Jaguar is just plain cute, Ito said.

If there is a protagonist, it would be Swiper (played by Jacob Jones). Swiper tries to steal everything he can from Dora, only to toss the items away.

"I have an animal entourage," Bunton said, as she looked around at the other animals, Tico the Squirrel (Quanesha Wilson), Benny the Bull (Matthew Scott) and Isa the Iguana (Destiny Stancil).

Isa tags along because she's a friend of Boots, and she's helpful because she always finds things that Dora needs. Benny also helps finds things.

Baby Jaguar only speaks Spanish.

As for the Spanish-speaking part, Bunton said she's only learned the phrases in the show, while Daniels did take Spanish earlier in his life. The only one who actually speaks the language is Wilson.

Tate LeClair may have the toughest job, playing the roles of Map and Backpack. Wearing a form-fitting black jumpsuit and head covering, audiences will only see his arms and legs.

"I can't wait to see the response (from the audience)," Burroughs said. "The Pirate Piggies are going to be fun."

While it is aimed at young children, adults will find the show fun, too, Ito said.

The moral of the story?

"Everyone can be friends no matter how different they are," Bunton said.

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