Spookley, the square pumpkin who manages to triumph in a round-pumpkin world, turns 20 this Halloween. Two Minnesota institutions have teamed up to film a new puppet show to mark the moment.
Minneapolis nonprofit PACER Center has created an anti-bullying campaign and curriculum for kids with Spookley as its "spokes-pumpkin," and Hopkins children's theater Stages Theatre Company produced a short film called "The Spookley Halloween Show!" with local performers and puppets made by a Minneapolis artist.
The live-action puppet production and new music video premiered on Spookley's YouTube channel on Wednesday to mark Unity Day, an annual event created by PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center as part of National Bullying Prevention Month.
"It's a powerful reminder that being different should be celebrated and accepted," said Twin Cities actor Matt Ouren, an education associate at Stages who plays Jack the Scarecrow in the show.
Spookley, the unique little gourd who faces bullying in his patch, was first introduced in Joe Troiano's 2001 book, "The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin." An animated movie inspired by the book was released three years later and became a seasonal favorite on Netflix.
In 2016, Stages produced an adaptation of "Spookley the Square Pumpkin" for Minnesota audiences, and has put on the show two more times since then. The new film features Spookley and his friends on Holiday Hill Farm creating their own Halloween show.
"It is truly an imaginative journey with catchy and beautiful music that families will be singing long after they're done watching the show," said Sandy Boren-Barrett, Stages' artistic director.