As Experienced at the La Jolla Playhouse’s 2022 WOW Festival
The Show & How it Works:
Hoopla! is a play for kids that tours schools. It’s touches on the ideas of friendships, family dynamics and integrity.
Why it’s Interesting, IMHO:
It’s a show with hula hoops! Who doesn’t want to know how that works?!
Initial Impression & Critical Discussion:
This show knows its audience and plays right to them. It’s a kids show through and through, but a distinctly modern one. Some of the topics feel familiar—a kid not fitting in, a dad who’s focused on work—others feel truly fresh, like when a girl is out with her friends and runs into a homeless woman, a woman that her friends don’t realize is this girl’s mom. Another sign of the times is the diverse casting; this has performers openly and frequently acknowledging familial relationships within the show rather than relying on “family resemblance” to make them clear.
The hula hoops were certainly fun to have around and were used to light effect early on. They largely serve as a carrot. The audience knows what’s coming—”they wouldn’t have hula hoops on stage if they didn’t plan on really using them, right?” And besides, the story culminates in the school talent show. While the title might make one wonder if it’s a “hula hooping show,” a more accurate description is children’s theatre with the added fun of hula hooping integrated into the story.
Experiential Viewpoint Expression (E.V.E.):
Embodied, 3rd person visual, 3rd person narrative, entity, mortal.
Note: Even though they passed out hula hoops to the audience, the show itself wasn’t explicitly interactive.
Who Should See This?
Young children and families. The opportunity for antsy toddlers to do their own hula hooping from the audience while watching the show is certainly a plus.