On June 20, the Kapow-i GoGo marathon will be back again at the Peoples Improv Theater. Tickets are on sale now for $30 and available for purchase at the door or online here. I had the chance to sit down with some of the cast and creative team to discuss this unique show and how it came together. Leading up to the marathon, I will be sharing those interviews here.
To say that Andrea Miller wears a lot of hats in Kapow-i GoGo is a huge understatement. In addition to being a puppeteer, she also plays Treeleaf, Giggle GoGo, Woobly, Police Officer Shelly, and many more characters in the show. In our conversation, she talks about her love of old-fashioned musicals, her many costume changes, and the one scene in Kapow-i GoGo that always cracks her up.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got interested in acting and theater.
Yeah! My name is Andy Miller. I started as a dancer when I was really little. Pretty much what you see on Dance Moms, that was like my childhood. It was terrible, but I think I’m a decent dancer now, so whatever. And then I went to school, to college at Michigan State University and got a BFA in theatre. And I moved to the city, and I’ve been dancing less and acting more since I moved here.
What was the first show you remember seeing on-stage?
My mother’s favorite story, I don’t know if this counts, but when I was two, she took me to see Disney on Ice show.
It absolutely does. My family had a ritual that every single year, they would take me for my birthday to see Disney on Ice.
Well, I saw some sort of Disney on Ice show, and I told my mother that I wanted to be a story dancer when I grew up, so she put me in dance classes. And now we’re here, and the rest is history!
Were there any actors or other shows that influenced you creatively?
I really loved Oklahoma growing up. My mom’s whole family is from Oklahoma, and she used to sing me the songs, and the version with Hugh Jackman, the filmed version, I love that version. I watched it all the time. The really corny, show tune-y shows are my favorite shows, so nothing with any real depth, you know? Just like floaty and fun and goofy, those are my favorites.
How did you first get involved with Kapow-i GoGo?
I did Serials at the Flea, and I was actually a very, very small, one-liner part. It was a Thunderbot Salmon character, and every single episode, I just came on and said, “Thunderbot Salmon!” and did something stupid and walked off. So I never went to any of the rehearsals. They were just like, “You’re going to go on after this line, do this, and walk off,” and I was like, “Okay, great!” And then when they were doing it for real, they were like, “Do you want to be in it?” And I was like, “Yeah, but I get to do more than just say ‘Thunderbot Salmon,’ right?” And they were like, “Oh yeah,” and then I ended up doing like eight different parts in the show, so it worked out for the best I’d say. But I always joked that I started with the smallest part, and now I have all of the smallest parts, which equal like a very large part, so it was fun.
For people who haven’t seen the show yet, how would you sum up Kapow-i GoGo, and how do your characters Treeleaf and Giggle GoGo fit into the story?
It is a traditional adolescent-discovering-the-world story, but it uses references from video games and from other things that it creates its own thing. So it’s like, the basic storyline of kid grows up, falls in love, gets heart broken, fights monsters, falls in love again, and gets heartbroken but is still in love, has a kid, you know, like the traditional storyline.
Towards the beginning, the one character Treeleaf is kind of like a quirky sidekick who is related to the first love interest, so she’s somehow involved in that, so I’m sure she encourages it. But she’s just kind of there to egg her on, and she gets rescued.
But Giggle, she is Kapow-i’s daughter, so she’s got a little bit more stakes in the plot, which is fun. She is almost like – somebody described the character as the Ark of the Covenant. She is like the thing that everybody’s like, “No!” in Part 3, “We have to have her or rescue her or keep her away from evil people or be used by evil people!” Which I always think is funny, like calling myself the Ark of the Covenant. But then, it’s cyclical, without giving too much away, she ends up starting it all over again.
I’ve seen the show twice now.
I’m amazed at the stamina that you guys have to put on this kind of show. What was the rehearsal process like, leading up to the first marathon, and what is the most challenging part for you?
Well, we did it – before we started doing marathons, we did Part 1 by itself and Part 2 by itself and Part 3, so that kind of helped because we would rehearse for Part 1 over and over and over again until it was like in our brains, and then we rehearsed Part 2 over and over and over again, and then we rehearsed Part 3 over and over and over again. And then the marathon came, and we were like, “Oh no, this is going to be terrible!” But then we were like, “Oh, well, it’s not THAT terrible.” It was fine.
The hardest part is usually, I do a lot of the puppeteering, and in Part 2, I’m the wings for Princess Cloudberry, and then I’m also a few minor characters. So I am changing costumes constantly back and forth between wearing all black to puppeteer, and then like into my pink outfit for Woobly that comes out and has like two lines. But I have to go off-stage and immediately change back into my puppeteer costume. So I have a list, actually, of what I’m supposed to be wearing at what time, and I constantly have to check it so that I make sure I’m ready to go on-stage in the right outfit at the right time. I tried it once without the list. It didn’t go well. I had like one shoe on, and it was bad. So Part 2, all the puppeteering and like costume changes, that’s the hardest part for me. When I get to be one character, that’s the best! But that’s not until Part 3.
Could you tell who Woobly is?
Because I didn’t mention Woobly in the character run-down.
Woobly’s probably my favorite, actually. Woobly is the item’s shop that you go to when you’re playing video games, and you know, when you always push the button one too over, and then you have to start the whole system over, so she’s really annoying. She’s a computer character to a tee, and she doesn’t change. Everyone changes and grows throughout the show, except for Woobly. Woobly is exactly the same all the time, all over, so she’s really fun. She provides the characters with items that they need but also annoys them and then leaves.
She’s endlessly cheerful!
If you could swap parts with any other cast member for one performance, who would it be and why?
Oh! It would probably be between Madame Blood or Xar Xar Zuu. I just want to play one of the really super-evil, larger-than-life, command the stage characters, you know? I think most of the parts I play are like kind of cute and kind of like, “Oh, hey!” So it would be great to play someone super, super evil and like, rawwr, I think.
Because, I mean, Giggle – she has all these powers, but she doesn’t mean to be doing harm!
She’s not really evil. She’s like going through an awkward teenage phase where she’s like angry at everyone, but I wouldn’t call her evil. And she’s still kind of cute, you know, she has pigtails, and she has like sparkles on her face. So she’s angry, but not evil, so I would want to play, like, evil evil.
Yeah, you’re not the only person to list Madame Blood as their character they want to change with.
Amy is amazing. Amy Jo Jackson, she plays Madame Blood. Just when she talks in her regular, every day talking, you’re just like, (sighs). You know? It’s not an act, that’s her. I mean, minus the evil part. She’s a wonderful person.
Kapow-i GoGo is obviously heavily based on anime and video games and Saturday morning cartoons. What were some of your favorite TV shows or video games growing up, and did you have a Saturday morning routine?
I did a lot of educational TV. That’s what my parents wanted, so I watched Captain Planet a lot, which I guess there’s kind of those references, like the team of kids. And I watched Pokemon. That’s about it as a child, so a lot of the references had to be explained to me. I play now as an adult, I play like Mario Kart and stuff. I don’t know if that’s better if I do that now as an adult than if I did it as a child.
Well, my folks would not let us have video games growing up, and I married someone who grew up with all of the games systems!
And so now we have all the Disney Infinity toys all lined up, and all the games.
Yeah, I understood most of the references, but a lot of them were, they would be like, “Oh, it’s this thing!” “Oh, okay, yeah,” and I’d watch a little YouTube clip, you’re like, “Yeah, I understand it now.”
Tell me why people should come see the Kapow-i GoGo marathon on June 20 at the Peoples Improv Theater.
Well, it’s a wonderful storyline. I feel like there are a few language things, but it could be enjoyed by audiences of all ages. And the acting is like pretty superb from some of the people, well, ALL of the people in the show, but there are certain moments where you’re just like, “Ohh!” So I feel like it can be appreciated from a geeky standpoint but also from a theatrical standpoint of being like, “Oh my god!” that Kapow-i GoGo is on-stage the entire time, talking the entire time, doing this wonderful thing for over four hours. How can you not be impressed with that? So even if you’re not really into all of the geeky stuff, I just, from a theatrical stand-point and all the props and all the time that went into it, I feel like it’s a show not to miss from any stand-point, no matter what your background in Saturday morning cartoons is.
It’s the Saturday Night Live rule, to reward the audience if they get the reference but don’t punish the audience if they don’t.
And we create enough inside jokes throughout the course of the marathon that by the time you leave, you’re like, “Oh, I get all of these things!”
Do you have a favorite moment as far as playing Giggles or Treeleaf in the show?
When I’m on stage as Treeleaf, there’s one line that we always, everybody on stage always breaks, and I don’t even know why. It’s not even like a funny joke when you say it out loud. It’s when they’re like, “Oh, what are we having for dinner?” And Treehorn goes, “Well, we’ll be having watermelon and bugs.” And Hicc-up goes, “Eww…watermelon.” And we all break every single time, and I can’t even, my line is right before his. I set it up, and I can’t even say that line because I know how funny it’s going to be when he says it. It’s bad. It’s a bad actor thing, but I’m not the only one, so it’s okay. Everyone breaks.
Where can people find out more about you and your upcoming projects?
Go to AndreaMarieMiller.com.
Pop Rocks or Warheads?
Lucky Charms or Cocoa Puffs?
You’ve freed the magical hydra. Do you wish for a robot army or telekinetic powers?
Which would you rather have for a pet, Whiskers the Fighting Cat or a small flock of moo-bats?
Whiskers the Fighting Cat
“F—, Marry, Kill”: Master Masterwhiskies, Tuxedo Gary, and King Cloudberry
Oh, man! Okay, I’m going to marry King Cloudberry for his wealth. Oh, I’m sorry Hank, but I’m going to kill Master Masterwhiskies, and f— Tuxedo Gary.