FORT WORTH -- It is the show that asks, "What's in your backpack?"
Dora the Explorer Live!, the Artes de la Rosa production at Rose Marine Theater, finds the intrepid, 8-year-old, bilingual adventurer of cartoon fame dodging pirates while winding her way toward a hidden treasure chest, thanks to the helpful guidance of her ever-faithful talking map.
The grown-up players in this busy, highly interactive show work very hard to keep their young audience (Dora probably plays best to the 6-and-under crowd) engaged. Lorens Portalatin is extremely chipper and energetic as the title character. She also does well with the show's many short songs and dances. Zak Reynolds (as Dora's simian friend, Boots) and Spencer Baker (as the nefarious fox, Swiper) carry puppets of their characters and do all they can to bring them to life. Baker fares a bit better because his well-crafted puppet is as tall as he is. But, despite his best efforts, Reynolds usually looks like a guy lugging around a monkey doll, because his puppet is much smaller and does not have as many moveable features as Swiper.
On the whole, the show, directed by Artes de la Rosa artistic director Adam Adolfo, succeeds because it has a lot of action, plenty of lighting effects, a large cast of adults and youngsters and frequent opportunities to get the children involved. The actors often ask what is going to happen next or where a menace (like the Piggy Pirates) might be lurking.
There are a few little problems with the production. Some of the leads are miked, but most of the cast is not. This means you sometimes have songs where an amplified grown-up is followed immediately by an unmiked child, which is jolting.
Also, the show includes a 20-minute intermission that it would be much better off without. No stage work with less than an hour of actual performance time needs a break.
But those details are not likely to matter to any little Dora fans you might have around the house. If they like her on television, they are very likely to love her live in this bright and bouncy presentation.