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After months of preparation, the Mills Entertainment production of American Girl Live had its World Premiere at The North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, Illinois - just outside of Chicago. Our family was in attendance for the debut performance of the all-new musical, which whisks audiences away to join a group of girls for an adventure at summer camp.

Published in Chicagoland

Back in April, I shared the news that Mattel and Mills Entertainment had teamed-up to bring characters from American Girl into the realm of live theatre with the launch of American Girl Live. Now comes news on the full cast for the debut performances, which will have their world premiere at The North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, Illinois, Dec. 21-23, 2018. The cast of American Girl Live includes Jenna Bruce as Rebecca, Ashley Diane as Luciana, Laila E. Drew as Melody, Shelby Lysette Miguel as Nanea, Monica Poston as Julie and Kelsey Elaine Pressnall as Maryellen. The cast also features Orisa Gutierrez and Mari Skoultchi. 

2018 American Girl of the Year, Luciana Vega has been one of the most well-received American Girl dolls ever here at our house. A girl that dreams of being an astronaut and one day being the first woman on Mars, the character gained buzz even prior to release, and today the Luciana's story is being told from orbit high above earth. As part of Story Time From Space, a new video features NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor on the International Space Station reading Luciana: Braving the Deep. The book, written by Erin Teagan is published by Scholastic and is the October 2018 American Girl Book Club Pick! Check it out...

Published in Books, Mags, Comics

For the past few years, Mattel's American Girl subsidiary has been running into problems. Sales have been dropping by the double-digits as habits change (damn the devices!) and other companies' 18" dolls have started to catch up to them in terms of quality but at a lower price. Add in another unfortunate set of moves that were tied to the failing Toys "R" Us (TRU), and those problems have snowballed quickly. The launch of the lower-priced, 15" Wellie Wishers line never took off in the way that everyone hoped, and those dolls and their accessories were shipped heavily to TRU. Pair that with fact that about a year and a half ago (October 2016), American Girl opened store-within-a-store pop-up concepts in 97 Toys "R" Us locations, and that's an issue. Mattel is owed over $135M in the Toys "R" Us bankruptcy that they'll likely never see and the fallout has begun. They recently announced the closing of their New York City office (100 jobs lost), and today comes news that hits close to home - they're shutting down American Girl operations in Wilmot, Wisconsin, and The Mattel Toy Store is going along with it.

The details are light right now, but Mattel and Mills Entertainment have teamed-up to bring American Girl to life as an all-new traveling musical. AMERICAN GIRL LIVE! will feature all-original songs and "unforgettable experiences" based on some of American Girl's most loved characters. The show promises "fun-filled adventure, where exciting tales of bravery and friendship come to life, LIVE and in-person" as families join their "favorite American Girl characters, and some brand-new friends, as they follow their hearts and share their dreams, in a journey across time." Check out a short video teaser below, and look for more details coming soon, including tour dates and cities. I can reveal that tickets will go on-sale on May 18, 2018 for most markets...

This morning I woke up to an email from Mattel with news that I knew would be just around the corner - the reveal of American Girl's 2018 Girl of the Year. What I didn't expect was that 2018's GOTY, Luciana Vega, would be perhaps the most perfect doll ever... at least in our house. As our girls often look to and reach for the stars, Luciana becomes a new example for them - the latest in American Girl's long line of inspiring characters that encourage girls to think about who they want to be and how they want to make their mark in the world—no matter the challenges they may face. Vega is described as "a creative, confident 11-year-old girl and aspiring astronaut who dreams of being the first person to go to Mars. And, while she has the skills and smarts to achieve her goals, she also learns that being a good leader and team player right here on Earth is the best first step." This sounds very, very familiar...

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