A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Julie's Greenroom stars Julie Andrews and original puppets from the Jim Henson Company in a preschool-geared educational introduction to the performing arts. Andrews plays the owner of a performing studio who teaches the kids all about putting on a stage show with the help of guest stars such as Idina Menzel and Ellie Kemper, who drop in to mentor the kids in specific aspects of performing. The characters' dialogue acquaints kids with terminology such as "stage right" and "stage left," "ghost light," and, of course, "greenroom," all while maintaining an organic and kid-friendly quality. In other words, it teaches without instructing, instead letting the characters' discoveries inspire the audience's. There's a basic introduction to original music, technical components of stage production, and the nuts and bolts of costumes and props, appealing to a wide span of interests. Even better, the characters' experiences inspire valuable life lessons such as overcoming adversity, working as a team, and appreciating diversity.
What's the story?
In JULIE'S GREENROOM, Miss Julie (Julie Andrews) and her assistant, Gus (Giullian Yao Gioiello), teach a group of five young kids called "Greenies" all about the performing arts and putting on a show at her own studio. All the youngsters arrive at the greenroom with their own interests related to the stage: Peri (Stephanie D'Abruzzo) hopes to be a star, Spike (Frankie Cordero) excels at crafting rhymes and lines, Hank (John Tartaglia) is a piano virtuoso, Fizz (Dorien Davies) is awed by the costumes and make-up, and Riley (Jennifer Barnhart) favors the mechanics behind the whole thing. Together they learn all about crafting and staging a musical performance from Miss Julie and her special guests -- including Alec Baldwin, Josh Groban, and Carol Burnett -- so they can put on their own original show that borrows elements from dance, mime, improv, and numerous other art forms.
Is it any good?
Preschoolers and their parents are in for a real treat in this engaging series designed to increase their awareness of the performance arts. It's not an easy feat to outshine the incomparable Julie Andrews on-screen, but this Jim Henson puppet troupe does just that with their infectious enthusiasm right from the start. Under the expert eye of Miss Julie and her accomplished stage manager, Gus, these students take field trips, meet pros, and, most importantly, work together to create and perform a musical of their own unique design.
Tangible learning aside, Julie's Greenroom posits to viewers that performance art owes its cultural richness to a general climate of acceptance and inclusivity. The five Greenies exhibit cultural and gender diversity (there's even a duck!), as well as varying levels of physical ability and emotional maturity, but every character has something valuable to contribute to the project as a whole. Together they learn to believe in themselves, cultivate their ideas and gifts, and weather the inevitable mishaps that put roadblocks on their way to success.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what goes into creating a stage production. Kids: What different roles must be filled onstage and behind the scenes to make a successful show? If one or two jobs go undone, how does it affect the whole project? What other undertakings can you think of that would suffer a similar fate without a full group effort?
In what ways are the Greenies reflective of our diverse society? Why is it good to surround yourself with people whose experiences are different from yours? On the other hand, what challenges does diversity present? How do we work through them?
Kids: What does this show have to say about perseverance? What examples of adversity do the characters experience on their journey toward their performance? What role does teamwork play in their ability to do so? Can you think of any other character strengths that are important for a creative person?
Families can use this series to inspire cultural field trips of their own. Attend a play, an art show, a dance performance, or a concert together. Talk about how the art form affected you. Is there one form in particular that interests your kids? How does art allow you to express yourself in unique ways?
- Premiere date: March 17, 2017
- Cast: Julie Andrews, Giullian Yao Gioiello, Idina Menzel
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Kids Musical TV
- Topics: Arts and Dance, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Music and Sing-Along, Puppets
- Character Strengths: Perseverance, Teamwork
- TV rating: NR
- Available on: Streaming
- Award: Common Sense Seal
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