1991 Coming Out of Their Shells Tour Chicago

It was 1991, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were going strong around the world, from the movies, toys, cartoons, and the live concert was still going around the country.  This was a smaller show that was edited down from the original “Coming Out of Their Shells Tour”.  They came to Michigan to do a show.  I was staying at my aunt’s during that time and was not able to convince anyone to take me to the show, since I saw the full show back in October.  I was crushed. I wanted to see it alive again so badly.  Disappointed that I missed the show, the only thing I got was a poster that was badly beaten left hanging in a store on their pinboard.

It was a month later and once again my folks were not around.  This time they were in Las Vegas, after winning a trip there and us kids were home.  I received a message from a good friend of mine who lives in Chicago.  He told me that the Coming Out of Their Shells Tour was going to be in Chicago at Six Flags Great America the following week.  I knew this was something I really wanted to go to, so the next time I talked to my mom on the phone I asked her about it.  We would have to leave the day she got home from Las Vegas, and I already had all of my money counted up to tell her what I could do for the trip.  She said she would have to think about this.

When my mom got home from the trip she had a few important things to tell me.  One of which was how fast we had to be home.  There was an important family reunion going on later that week.  My grandmother was going to see her brother for the first time in 50 years and we had to be here for this reunion.  I agreed to the terms and she looked up the information.  The original plan was to go out there for one day to see the show and return the next day.  My mom handed me the map once we got in the car and taught me how to read it.  This was my first time ever having to navigate and at the time I was really bad at maps in school, though with my mom teaching me and helping me along the way this was the beginning of a skill that became very useful for me.

Once we got to Six Flags, we bought our tickets and got inside.  I found the “Grand Stage” where the show was going to be held.  It was a stage off to the right of the park from the entrance.  There was a ride right next to it and on the other side of the ride was a gift shop area.  The gift shop sold Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys!  I was so excited going through their toys, they had Walkabout, a Kangaroo Mutant that I was really wanting and could not find at the stores near me.  So we bought a few of him.  Then we learned of the twicket, a ticket that you could buy in the park to come back the next day for only $1!  Mom looked at the date and decided that we could do one more day of seeing the show.  But what got me even more excited was learning that the show ran twice a night!  So I could watch the show two times a day!  That was four times seeing the Coming Out of Their Shells Tour for this one trip.

We walked around the park for a bit that day.  I am not a big person for roller coasters, heights were never my strong point.  Though I did find the water log ride, which is something I’ve always enjoyed.  So I went and got in line for that.  After coming off the ride, I walked around to see a sign in front of a bridge. “Warning” Get wet on bridge” the sign read.  I laughed thinking only your feet could get wet, and decided to stick around for it.  Once the wave came, I had to hold onto the rail as it washed right through me, soaking everything I was wearing.  I should’ve took that warning seriously.  I laughed about it, went to a bathroom and ringed out as much of my clothes as I could before going on a walk back to starting the line for the show.

Once they opened the gate for the show, I went and sat in the front row, center seat.  As the show came on, I sang along with every song and spoke along with the words of the show.  I would only stumble when they would cut full scenes or a few lines here or there.  And they did cut a lot from this show, everything I came to know of the original show like the set, the extra cast characters, Baxter Stockman, and even a live Splinter, was removed from the show.  Splinter was now only seen on the video screen.  It was the Turtles, April, and Shredder.

Shredder’s costume looked worse than it originally did.  It looked as if he was wearing a garbage bag for a slip and I made sure that he heard me say that.  It was during a point where he came on stage trying to find April.  I remember Shredder being able to talk to the crowd in the original show, so I yelled really loud  “HEY SHREDDER NICE GARBAGE BAG FOR A SLIP!”  He stopped in the middle of his line as he slowly turned and looked at me, he pointed at me and closed his fist as if he was going to get me.  But he just turned and went back into the script.  I got a laugh and a wonderful memory from that.

During the end of the show, Donatello took notice that I was singing along with them.  He pointed me out to the other Turtles while they were on stage.  That was fun to see I was noticed.  They were all friendly coming over waving to me.  I was on such a rush.  So as soon as the show was over, I ran and got in line for the second showing that night.

Once they let us in, we were not able to get our same seats.  My mom and I sat in the second row as I started talking with the boy in front of us.  He had me move up front and next to him on the bench as we talked Ninja Turtles.  I was no longer close to the center as I was more stage right.  I was talking with this kid about my Turtle collection and all, which as I think back now is nothing like the collection I have today, we were having a good time.  My mom leaned over and pointed out that April came out to interview the fans.  We noticed she was doing a different route than the first time she came out.  I laughed and told the boy that she’s heading to interview me.  He did not believe me, though sure enough she made her way right to me.  And even in her short interview with me she said “You were here at the last show”.  So my mom’s and my guesses were right, she went a different route so she could interview me.

I remember in the interview she asked me which turtle I was there to see and I said “Michaelangelo!”, after April walked away my mom leaned over and bapped me.  “You should of said Donatello!”, I was confused and asked her why.  She pointed out that April only interviews four kids, and Leo, Raph and Mike were already mentioned.  I felt bad, Donatello is my second favorite Turtle.  Though I’ve always been a Mikey fan at heart.

Once the show started, Donatello came right in front of me on stage and pointed at me and brought his hands up doing a dismissing wave as he turned to walk away.  Though as soon as Don walked off, Michaelangelo was right there in front of me blowing kissing and giving thumbs up.  I couldn’t help but laugh.  The rest of that show, Mike kept coming over to that side of the stage paying attention to me.  It was great that each of the Turtles remembered me and that April even interviewed me.  I left that night so excited that we were to return the next day.  We also learned of a handicap line that is let in earlier for the show, and my mom is handicapped so the following day we were to stand in that line.

The next day I didn’t really need to see much of the theme park, while Six Flags is great for anyone who likes roller coasters, the only thing that brought me back was to enjoy the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle show that was going on there.  We stayed in the handicap line most of the day, so I got to sit in my favorite spot, the bench in the front row, center stage.  The show was so packed that time and the crowd was really into it.  The Turtles noticed me and waved at me when they came out.  During the song “Count on Us” all these kids got up in front of the stage dancing and singing to the song.  It was a rush, I was so excited, until it hit me.  The next show was the last show for this trip and could be my last time seeing these Turtles.

I got up and headed out to the handicap line and sat there now feeling defeated and really sad about having to leave.  The Turtles were going to be doing these shows for a week and with that that ticket thing to get back in for only a dollar each day.  I so badly wanted to stay out here.  Though that family reunion was going to be the next day.  After this fourth show, it was going to be time to leave.  Once again there was a long line forming for the show, though we were first in the handicap line so I got my favorite seat.  Through the show I had tears down my face, though I still spoke along with every line and sang along to every song.  My sadness had to be realized from the stage, as the song “Count on Us” was ending April was on stage with the Turtles and she yelled over her mic “Bye Michele!”  I was in shock.  Not only did she remember my name, she knew I was leaving.

I didn’t want to leave right away as the show ended.  I got up and walked along the fence they had blocking us from the back stage.  I noticed a door open in the fence and stood there looking in.  There was a trailer back there, and to my surprise I could see the Turtles being lead into the trailer.  I yelled “BYE!”  One of the Turtles turned noticing me, and went to walk my way but their handler stopped them and lead them into the trailer.  I was not sure if this was the last time I was going to see them, though I really did respect all the attention that I got at the show.  It made me feel really good inside.

At this time in my fandom, I never met anyone who worked on Ninja Turtles before, I did not own any animation cels, original art, scripts or props.   I did not travel to any sets or studios.  The only thing I did that most fans were not doing was birthday parties and movie theater appearances.  So for me, I thought this was the closest I could ever get to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  And for many fans out there, it was.  The Coming Out of Their Shells tour gave fans the chance to be part of a live event for a comic/cartoon characters.  Though they were not real, and a lot of people who went to these shows realized that.   It was still a blast, and totally worth being part of.  They touched so many people all around the world.

I do have more stories of the Tour Turtles, which will be shared through Cowabunga Corner and I’d like to take this time to thank two of the guys who worked on the show in 1991 that I do know by name  Alfredo Miller who was Leonardo and Eric Anzalone who was Donatello in this show.   Thank you, your cast and crew that worked with you for making that trip so meaningful to me!  You all did a wonderful job!

Did you get to see the Coming Out of Their Shells Tour Live?  If so where and when, please share your story about it here!  Also feel free to leave any questions or comments below.

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