Talking cushions, a dancing flower, a singing can – and a lesbian host? Doesn't seem like a ubiquitous scenario for a kids show – and it isn't, considering the lack of LGBT family programming – but the independent "Dottie's Magic Pockets," a Pink Pea production, dares to be different. Alongside her trap-having inanimate pals, there's Dottie, the delightful, zany mom played by Jen Plante. Connecting with a bunch of invisible kids is no sweat for the former teacher, camp counselor and current aunt to 15 nieces and nephews – and it sure beats her day job: Working in IT. "It's so not glamorous," she says. When you're talking to a beaver, a mouse and a flower, what else is, really?
What kinds of kids' shows did you watch as a child?
(I was a) huge 'Sesame Street' fan, and even before that I watched 'Captain Kangaroo' and 'Mr. Rogers.' (Laughs) I definitely liked '3-2-1 Contact' and that kind of stuff – now I'm dating myself for sure (laughs) – 'The Electric Company.' I felt like those shows had so much creativity and imagination and, like, they didn't have a lot of resources – similar to us. We really – I don't know what you know about the production, but we made it on a shoestring. It was just a labor of love kind of thing, and so much of the stuff that we did really kind of came out of really not having any other options. So it was like, 'Hey, let's make the wall talk!'
Is some of the innuendo intentional – like when a pal stops by with rolls and Dottie says, "Everybody likes good buns!" – or is my mind in the gutter?
It's funny, Tammy (Stoner, the show's creator) is the one – she'd slip things in for her own amusement and she's like, 'Well, I'm a parent, and I like it when things are there that I can laugh at.' There were some people on the production team who were just like, 'Don't do that. Ya know, that's gonna give people an opportunity to criticize us,' and she was just like, 'Ya know what? It's for our audience, so let them decide.' We had done some screenings to see the reactions, and I would say more of the feedback we got was positive, where the parents just laugh at stuff and they don't feel like we're trying to corrupt people or sexualize things. But it's definitely intentional (laughs).
How do you hope the show impacts viewers?
I hope that the show will allow people to be able to talk more about gay families. I think one of the things that I like about the show is that it's kind of wacky and fun and in and of itself – whether there was a gay family in it or not – I think that it's a fun show to watch for kids. And (it's) what I'd like to see, because there's really nothing out there where kids with two moms or two dads can look at the TV and see their family represented. So this will be something for them, that they can relate to.
'Dottie's Magic Pockets'
Noon Nov. 15
Main Art Theatre, Royal Oak