Hello Kitty brings colorful world to Las Vegas

This weekend’s Hello Kitty fan gathering in Las Vegas won’t be just cute.

No, the three-day event at the Orleans Arena will be supercute.

Honest. It says so right there in the name, and when Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival does arrive, it’ll be nothing less than Kittystock, Lollapakittylooza and Coachakittyella combined as fans watch live-action shows and participate in interactive exhibits featuring the wildly popular anthropomorphic kitten.

Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival runs for four sessions that will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday. All will be at the Orleans Arena, 4500 W. Tropicana Ave.

Tickets are $29 for adults and $19 for youths, and a limited number of $89 Red Bow packages and $189 Platinum Bow packages — which offer special perks — also are available.

For tickets, visit www.OrleansArena.com or call 702-284-7777. For package deals and more information about the festival, visit www.Sanrio.com/HKFestival.

Show spokeswoman and Hello Kitty ambassador Piper — just “Piper,” an effervescent fan who describes herself as “a friend of Hello Kitty and a friend of the festival” — said the event is more than just a live-action show of the sort in which many of Hello Kitty’s cartoon contemporaries star.

“We do have two stages where live shows go on. There are seven shows during the festival,” Piper says. “But it’s really more of an interactive experience. You can watch shows, but you also can interact with exhibits.”

Ultimately, Piper adds, “it’s like a fair or festival (built) all around the world of Hello Kitty.”

And what a colorful world it is. Each show or activity is about Hello Kitty or one of her friends, Piper says. So fans can visit Keroppi, her frog friend, at Donut Pond, and Badtz-Maru, a mischievous penguin, in his motorcycle garage.

Other Hello Kitty friends and associates — including Dear Daniel, Hello Kitty’s “boyfriend and companion since childhood” — also will be on hand, and fans can partake of face-painting, temporary tattooing and other activities.

“There are a lot of things you can walk around and explore,” Piper says. “So I would look at it, really, as more than just a show.”

And, of course, there will be merchandise — some of it exclusive to the show — available for purchase. Since her introduction on a coin purse in Japan in 1974, the London-born, perpetually 8-year-old Hello Kitty has become a global phenomenon, attracting a fan base of not just young girls, but adult women, boys and men in ways that most other cartoon characters can only envy.

Piper says that, in traveling with the festival, “we’ve seen, really, fans of all ages. I think it’s just because Hello Kitty is so simple and can mean different things to different people. You can be a young girl or a young boy that’s kind of new to Hello Kitty but still feel a connection to her.”

“We really do see a variety of ages and boys and girls and men and women,” Piper says. “Sometimes we might have a fan that brings along a husband or a wife or the other way around. So, really, we get a good mix.”

And, among all, Piper says, “there’s no way to leave without a smile.”

Piper suspects that Hello Kitty’s popularity may grow out of the universe in which she lives and the friendships she enjoys with such a diverse array of fellow characters. “The great thing about Hello Kitty and her friends is, their story can be what you want it to be, and I think that’s what makes it so lovable,” she says.

And because of the simplicity of Hello Kitty, Piper adds, “at different stages of your life, she can be whatever you need her to be or whatever you want her to be, and I think that goes with her friends as well.

“I think, also, she is just about spreading smiles, so, I mean, how could you not get behind something that wants to bring a smile to your face?”

Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival so far has toured about a half-dozen cities with a few more still on the itinerary, Piper says, and the tour marks “the first time Hello Kitty and her friends were able to explore some of the cities in North America.”

Not even a continuing fan debate about whether Hello Kitty — whose real name is Kitty White, who has a twin sister named Mimmy and a cat of her own named Charmmy Kitty, and whose bio is so deep that it includes such details as her weight, parents’ names, astrological sign and preferences in pastry — is, well, a cat or a little girl has complicated fans’ love of the pink-bowed character.

“She is a little girl in that she walks on two legs and she wears clothes and has a bow in her hair,” Piper says, “She drinks milk, but out of a bottle. So, in that sense, she is a little girl. She has a family and she enjoys playing with her friends. She has a pet cat. So, she’s a little girl.

“I mean, she does have features of a cat,” Piper adds, “but if I had to say one or the other, she’s definitely a little girl.”

Contact reporter John Przybys at jprzybys@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0280 or follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.

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