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Splash’n Boots bring Big Love to Empress Theatre

Nick Adams and Taes Leavitt are Splash’n Boots. They bring their show ‘Big Love, Hugs and Kisses’ to the Empress Theatre on Thursday.

The Empress Theatre will be filled with big love, hugs and kisses on Thursday, Sept. 20.
Children’s entertainers Splash’n Boots bring their show “Big Love, Hugs and Kisses” to Fort Macleod at 6 p.m. as part of a cross-country tour.
“We like to think of our show as a really interactive experience for families,” said Taes Leavitt, who with Nick Adams form the duo Splash’n Boots.
“It’s not so much like you come and watch a show. Your kids are really a part of the show . . it’s geared for the entire family.
They will be joined by some of the other characters from the show seen on Treehouse TV.
“This show is really about connecting,” said Leavitt, whose character is Boots. “It’s really a space to come and enjoy something with your kids and all members of the family.”
The show will feature singing, dancing and on-the-spot interviews with children and adults in the audience as cast members venture off the stage.
“It’s more of an experience than a show that you just watch.”
The “Big Love, Hugs and Kisses” is designed to counteract bullying by delivering a positive message of acceptance and support for one another.
The idea for the tour was sparked by a boy named Nicholas who was being severely bullied at school.
“It was to the point that he got a concussion and he was so anxious that he wasn’t sleeping at night,” Leavitt said. “He was losing hair and not eating. It was just a heart-breaking story, and the mom reached out to us.”
Splash’n Boots met Nicholas before one of their shows and gave him a yellow and blue heart-shaped pillow that he could hug anytime he needed it.
“Sometimes you just need something to hold on to so you feel safe and loved,” Leavitt said. “We just told him that any time he feels scared to know that we love you and you’re amazing just the way you are.”
Realizing that other children were being bullied, Nicholas asked his friends and family for money instead of presents on his birthday so he could buy hug pillows to hand out.
Nicholas raised $200 and about four months later delivered it in an envelope at one of Splash’n Boots shows.
“It was one of my most favourite moments from my entire life,” Leavitt said.
At each show Splash’n Boots will give out a Big Heart Award to a child from the community.
The child, who has been selected already for the Fort Macleod show, will take part in a pre-show meeting with the cast and brought on stage during the performance for public acknowledgement.
“The main theme is someone who is having a hard time — something has happened in their life — but they’re giving back to the world,” Leavitt said.
Examples of nominations include a little boy in Newfoundland who collects bottles and donates it back to the children’s hospital where he receives treatment, or a little girl who befriended an autistic classmate.
“It’s the idea of kids seeing another kid for who they are, and embracing that,” Leavitt said.
For Leavitt, Splash’n Boots is the fulfilment of a childhood dream that saw her study music and drama in university.
“For me, it’s always been about working with kids as opposed to performing,” Leavitt said. “I don’t know if I ever knew the exact trajectory, but I knew it would be working with kids.”
Leavitt and Adams in 2003 were attending Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. when they were assigned a children’s theatre project in class.
“The project was to put on a play in the community, so we wrote a play with songs in it and performed it at the library.”
Leavitt and Adams realized they were onto something and they began performing at birthday parties and other smaller gigs, while researching how to turn it into something more.
“We work really well together, and we just kind of took it and ran.”
Splash’n Boots have been nominated five times for children’s album of the year in the Juno Awards.
They have produced 11 albums and three DVDs and have performed live across North America and in Dubai, Bermuda, Australia and Italy.
Their program, The Big Yellow Boot, is seen daily in 8.3-million homes on Treehouse, Canada’s No. 1 preschool network.