When NBC held a series of media presentations by their affiliates, Sprout gave me my first introduction to The Chica Show. I was sold immediately. Chica is a is a little chicken puppet who squeaks, and her show has singing, dancing and Mario Lopez making Saved by the Bell jokes.
Chica was there. I met Chica! After the presentation I went to interview Chica’s human costar Kelly Vrooman. She gave me a great big hug even though I hadn’t seen the show before and was just starting to learn about it, because that’s the spirit of The Chica Show. Add The Chica Show to your Fan Watchlist along with me by clicking the links or photos, and learn more about Chica’s human friend here.
Fan Voice: You are so animated on the show. How big do you have to be?
Kelly Vrooman: Well, I think what The Chica Show does that’s different than what others do is I’m not fake. I talk to her. It’s genuine. It’s genuine fun and genuine play and I think I’m very interested in just interacting with her as a friend. I don’t talk down to kids. Kids can tell when you’re being fake. Kids can tell when you’re trying to put on an act, so the show is just living and existing in their world and in the reality of their world. Sure, the reality is that she’s a four-year-old singing, dancing chicken, but how fun is that to watch? Very fun.
“There’s so many layers and levels in order to be able to make it funny, entertaining, safe, educational and hilarious.” – Kelly Vrooman
Fan Voice: Do you take any inspiration from the multiple layers of The Muppets, who sort of pioneered this interaction? I definitely felt that.
Kelly Vrooman: Absolutely. Thank you, thank you. Absolutely, we definitely are inspired by The Muppets because they did a great job. They did something no one else had done. They took these crazy characters and taught real life wonderful things. And, it’s entertaining to the parents too so the parents are going to want to watch it because the jokes and the humor and the comedic timing and the relationship is real, and is enjoyable and entertaining if you’re three or if you’re 103.
Fan Voice: Even just making a Saved by the Bell joke, your audience wasn’t alive when that show was on.
Kelly Vrooman: Right, so that’s for the parents. Definitely we have some jokes that we go, “Well, a preschooler wouldn’t get that” but Sprout’s all about coviewing, so we want to make sure that the parents are also being entertained.
Fan Voice: Is Mario Lopez game for that?
Kelly Vrooman: Oh, he’s game, absolutely. He jumped on board. He was, first of all, a very big fan of Chica’s before doing this and so being asked to do that, it was a nice thing for him because he said, “Yeah, I’m in. Let’s do it. What are we going to do? Let’s make a joke.”
Fan Voice: How great a workout is filming the show?
Kelly Vrooman: It’s an incredible workout. I’m also a writer on the show so learning to exercise those muscles, it’s a three camera sitcom. I mean, it’s performed with all of the production quality of a major prime time sitcom. So we’ve got this amazing set, wonderful costumes and being able to work with that, we have a rigorous schedule. We shoot 26 episodes in five weeks. All of that, and being an actor is an incredible growing experience.
Fan Voice: What is the writer’s room on The Chica Show like?
Kelly Vrooman: Well, tossing around ideas. We kind of go, “Hey, these are things we want to see in this season.” And then all of us go and we kind of pitch our ideas individually as individual writers, and then it goes through our head writer and it goes through our production team. We have curriculum consultants saying, “Well, the educational side of it is stronger if you approach it this way” and then we have our lawyers who say, “Ooh ooh ooh, no, but you can’t tie something around Chica’s neck like that because that’s unsafe. We want to protect kids.” So there’s so many layers and levels in order to be able to make it funny, entertaining, safe, educational and hilarious.
Fan Voice: Did you have a background in television before children’s programming?
Kelly Vrooman: I did. I actually come from a lot of theater and commercial work, a lot of commercial work, and found myself doing this and feeling very natural in it.
Fan Voice: What classic children’s shows do you admire?
Kelly Vrooman: Oh, Sesame Street. Yeah, Sesame Street, absolutely.