Thanks to Broadway Series South, Dora The Explorer Live! and its intrepid bilingual heroine will return to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium this weekend, starting Friday evening, for seven performances of Dora’s Pirate Adventure!

Produced by Nickelodeon Theatricals and Clear Channel Entertainment, written by “Dora the Explorer” co-creator and executive producer Chris Gifford, and directed by Gil Hoppe, this live-action show features colorful sets by David Gallo and eye-catching costumes by Gregg Barnes. The show will star Cuba-born Miami actress Danay Ferrer as Dora and North Carolina native Richie Portela as her trilingual cousin Diego, a science and nature expert who not only speaks English and Spanish but can also talk with the animals that they encounter. (Born in Roanoke Rapids, Portela is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.)

According to Nick Jr., which televises the top-rated children’s show, “‘Dora the Explorer’ is a half-hour animated children’s television series starring a 7-year-old Latina girl and her friends. The show is designed to actively engage preschoolers in a play-along, computer-style adventure. ‘Dora the Explorer’ teaches children how to observe situations and solve problems as they explore Dora’s world with her. Along the way, kids learn basic Spanish words and phrases, as well as math skills, music, and physical coordination. The show is highly interactive, and Dora’s young viewers are encouraged throughout the show to respond to Dora and to actively participate in the adventure through physical movement.”

According to the tour’s web site, “Dora the Explorer Live! Dora’s Pirate Adventure! is an all new live touring show based on the #1 rated Nickelodeon television program for preschoolers, ‘Dora the Explorer.’ [In Dora’s Pirate Adventure! Dora] leads the audience through a sea-faring adventure to find her stolen treasure chest, teaching Spanish phrases along the way.…

“According to Chris Gifford, the executive producer of the TV show and one of the creators of the live show, ‘We’ve tried very hard to make sure that kids coming to the live show feel as if they’ve entered Dora’s familiar, much-loved world. We wanted to make sure that we delivered on our audience’s expectations, but we’ve also added a certain grandness to the live show. It feels bigger. There’s more music in the live show and many more opportunities for interaction, too.’”

Designed for children aged 2-7, their parents and grandparents, and other grownups who love them, the show will run approximately 80 minutes, including a 20-minute intermission.

The tour’s web site claims, “Dora is portrayed by a young woman and has the same costume, appearance, and mannerisms as the animated Dora” and “Dora the Explorer Live! features Dora, Diego and Boots, of course. Kids will love seeing Benny, Tico, Isa and many other friends on stage, too.”

In reviewing the current National Tour, Karen Campbell of The Boston Globe wrote, “Dora the Explorer Live! is back with a new theatrical adventure, and this time the intrepid little traveler and her friends are off to recover Dora’s pirate-party treasure chest, which the three Pirate Piggies whisked away to Treasure Island. It’s a simple and loose story line at best, but it unreels with near-frenetic action and with one song after another, keeping the pee-wee set singing and dancing along.”

Campbell noted, “… Dora’s Pirate Adventure ramps up the colorful style of the cartoon, using a combination of costumed characters, puppets, and animated props. The cast does an excellent job, especially Danay Ferrer, a Dora look-alike whose perky style manages to be engaging to the kids without putting off the adults.”

Laurel Graeber of The New York Times added, “Children can sing, dance, learn a little Spanish and help recapture the chest by shouting at the piggies to give it up. (Who wouldn’t, when confronted by thousands of shrieking preschoolers?) The show ends with a tender lesson: sometimes all that bullies need is a little friendship.”

Broadway Series South presents Dora the Explorer Live! Dora’s Pirate Adventure! Friday, April 15, at 7 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday, April 16 and 17, at 11 a.m. and 2 and 5 p.m. in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the BTI Center for the Performing Arts, 1 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina. $16-$26.50. BTI Box Office: 919/831-6060. Groups of 20 or More: 919/857-4565 or [inactive 5/05]. Broadway Series South: [inactive 5/05].