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Experiential Licensing: Spy Ninjas, Hey Duggee Go From Screen to Live Stage

By Gary Symons

TLL Editor in Chief

Two hit shows are going on live tours, as location-based entertainment deals take off in the world of licensing.

Last week The Licensing Letter reported on the new Sesame Street: The Musical that is hitting the stage in an off-Broadway production.

This week we can report two new live shows are being produced based on Spy Ninjas and Hey Duggee.

The YouTube hit Spy Ninjas will take their stealthy skills on stage, in a deal with live tour company Cut & Mustard.

In a deal brokered by Spy Ninjas’ global licensing agency Surge Licensing, the ninjas will hitting the stage in 30 US cities in a new live play.

“This action-packed and family-friendly show is the first touring production based on Spy Ninjas’ hit YouTube series and is a great opportunity for fans to see their favorite YouTube stars live on stage,” says Tom Greenwood-Mears, Managing Director at live-tour company Cut & Mustard and Executive Producer of the tour. “At the same time, this dynamic show will offer many young Spy Ninjas fans and their families their first-ever live show experience in a theatre as Spy Ninjas continue their mission to save audiences and the internet from the evil Hackers.”

Featuring Chad Wild Clay and Vy Qwaint, Spy Ninjas are a team of YouTubers on a mission to save the internet from Project Zorgo, an evil organization of hackers.  With over 40 million YouTube subscribers and over 13 billion views across its YouTube channels, Spy Ninjas is a major YouTube sensation.

“Spy Ninjas quickly became a YouTube sensation with their serialized narrative-based adventures that are truly engaging and a cool combination of spy adventures, clue solving and high-octane ninja action,” said Surge Licensing executive VP Elan Freedman. “We are confident that Cut & Mustard will bring their superb creative and production skills to make the Spy Ninja’s Live tour a must attend event for their legions of fans.”

With the new Spy Ninjas Live tour, the Spy Ninjas crew will take their detective, martial arts, and hacking skills from the screen to the stage, crisscrossing through many U.S. cities starting this fall. VIP packages are available and include a pre-show meet and greet with Chad and Vy, exclusive limited-edition merchandise, VIP lanyard, limited edition photo signed by Chad and Vy, and early access to merchandise stands.

Spy Ninjas Live is expected to visit more than 30 U.S. cities beginning with its first leg this October and November, as well as another run in February and March 2023.

In Spy Ninjas Live, the Spy Ninjas have discovered the presence of a Hacker Sleeper cell across North America and must quickly reach major cities to defeat it. They are taking over local theatres to use as their headquarters and will have access to surveillance and a team of local Ninja associates—the audience—to dismantle the cell.

“We are incredibly excited to visit our millions of fans across the U.S. to deliver a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience,” added Spy Ninjas’ Chad Wild Clay and Vy Qwaint.  “Like our YouTube videos, we’ll combine martial arts, stealth, and detective work to battle the Hackers, all with the help of our local Spy Ninja fans.”

Surge Licensing and Spy Ninjas have also expanded into other licensing categories of late.

Playmates is the master toy partner for Spy Ninjas with a toy line that features in-show spy gadgets, gear, and non-lethal weaponry. Fans can role play as their favorite heroes (or villains) using the exact same gear, directly seen in the series.

Surge also signed a multi-faceted publishing deal with Scholastic for the U.S. and Canada, with the first books launching in February 2022.  Additional licensing partners include Bentex for apparel, and Event Merch for the Official Spy Ninjas Store.

Live Nation, Kenny Wax and BBC Studios Launch Hey Duggee Live Theatre Show

Also hitting the road this year will be a new live theatre production of the hit British kid’s show HEY DUGGEE.

Live Nation promoters Cuffe and Taylor are joining forces with award-winning theatre producer Kenny Wax Family Entertainment and BBC Studios for their biggest ever live touring theatre production, as HEY DUGGEE is to tour the UK for the first time ever in a vibrant and new interactive stage show.

Visiting 24 theatres with almost 100 dates, the tour marks the biggest ever theatre production of its kind for Live Nation in the UK.

Adapted from the smash hit TV series, HEY DUGGEE THE LIVE THEATRE SHOW will tour the UK from December through to summer 2023 and includes a four-week residency at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall (London) this Christmas.

Hey Duggee is an animated CBeebies show aimed at pre-school children and since bursting onto TV screens in 2014, the BBC and Studio AKA creation has won no fewer than six BAFTAs and is an international Emmy award-winning hit.

HEY DUGGEE THE LIVE THEATRE SHOW will see Duggee, The Squirrels and friends brought to life through innovative puppetry and storytelling in a fun and inclusive performance packed with laughs, songs, and dance for young fans to enjoy.

“Studio AKA’s Hey Duggee is such a fun and iconic show and we can’t wait to bring the humour and adventures to life for families all around the country,” said Mat Way, Global Director of Live Entertainment, Gaming and Interactive at BBC Studios. “We’re delighted to be working with Kenny Wax and Cuffe and Taylor to introduce young people to the wonders of the theatre.”

Now Cuffe and Taylor are working with BBC Studios and Kenny Wax to create a stage show that will be seen across the nations.

Cuffe and Taylor are no strangers to live theatre, presenting around 1,000 nights annually with wide-ranging sell-out tours from James Martin Live, The Good, The Bad and The Rugby and A Question of Sport Live to Lea Salonga – Dream Again, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Tour and the hugely successful tribute shows Tina – What’s Love Got To Do With It? and Whitney – Queen of the Night.

“We are incredibly excited to be working with both Kenny Wax and BBC Studios to present Hey Duggee live for the first time ever,” said Ben Hatton, Cuffe and Taylor’s Director of Theatre Touring. “The TV show has proved to be an absolute phenomenon and we hope to enjoy the same success in theatres across the UK. This is a great relationship for us all and one that we look forward to developing further.”

Kenny Wax has firmly established his production company as a leading producer and general manager in the West End, regionally and around the world. His successes include the hit musical SIX and The Play That Goes Wrong, while Kenny Wax Family Entertainment is one of the most prolific providers of family entertainment in the UK with productions including Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World, the Olivier Award-winning The Worst Witch, Oi Frog & Friends! and What the Ladybird Heard.

“We are so thrilled to be working with Live Nation, Cuffe & Taylor, Studio AKA and BBC Studios to create a brand new stage show with lots of surprises touring the country with a sit down month in London over Christmas,” said Wax. “I can’t wait.”

Who’s News: BBC Studios Reshuffles Its Licensing Leadership


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