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What the cast of 'Out of the Box' is doing 20 years later

“Out of the Box” was a popular children’s show that aired from 1998 to 2004. The hosts, Tony and Vivian, sang and made crafts inside of an imaginary box made entirely out of cardboard. We caught up with them 20 years after the first episode aired. Tony has also announced the “Tony James: Outside the Box” tour, a special set of appearances across the US and Canada that give fans of the show a chance to meet him in person. Following is a transcript of the video.

Tony: People always ask me what are some of my strongest memories from the show, what are some of my favourite episodes, and really, they’re all wonderful in their own way, but what I really remember if Viv’s laughter.

Vivian: I love Tony. (Laughs) And there’s my laugh.

Tony: So many times there would be opportunities where it would just be her scene, and we’d go behind and watch the monitors while she was doing her scene and I was just always just in awe of her. She’s a magnificent vocalist and person and I love Viv.

Vivian: It was great working with him. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. He was so supportive. I always felt like he had my back. We had a great connection. You know, the producers wanted us all to use our real names. So all the kids, it’s their real names, and I love it because you can watch. Like, the first season they will call me Vivian and then all of the sudden second season they will be like Viv. Being able to call each other by our real names … Tony and I, the relationship you see on TV is our relationship.

Tony: Viv and I get all the credit because we were the ones in front of the camera. But, what you didn’t see is the 75 other people who worked behind the camera to present this show that millions of people actually ended up loving all these years.

Vivian: We shot in Astoria. Actually the same place right next to Bear in the Big Blue House and right above Sesame Street which was mind-blowing, because growing up Sesame Street was my jam. Tony and I went all day, but the kids required by law to go to school for half a day, so we did three hours in the morning and then three hours in the afternoon. Basically, in like in a little over a week we’d have two episodes.

Tony: I’ve been in the arts my entire life. This actually speaks to, I think, one of the reasons I was cast, because they were looking for someone who is a musician, who was primarily … who could play percussion and specialised in junk percussion and I’ve had that experience because I was in the original American cast of Stomp. Even before Stomp I worked as a session and touring musician and I played with Billy Squire and Cyndi Lauper and Mariah Carey. Now of course, to this audience, those names may not mean that much, but you know, that was a while ago. –

One of the biggest reasons for the show’s popularity was its diverse cast.

Vivian: I was excited to represent because I didn’t realise it, I don’t think, at the time. At the time, I was just super, super excited to be doing it. But it was kind of, I think, after the fact that it started airing when I would meet people out in public, they would ask me are you Filipino? It was cool, you know, because it was important to them.

Tony: I think it was very important because it’s reflective of our world, and I’m a native New Yorker, so you know, that’s what … diversity is all around us.

I’m putting some finishing touches on some new music that I’ll release this year. I’m just going over some artwork and discussing storyboards for videos and all of that stuff, so I’m really excited about that, so stay tuned. There’s gonna be some new music coming out really soon.

Vivian: So, I’m a mum and that is my life and I love it, love it, love it, love it. I love my daughter. I love my husband. I love being a teacher because that’s mainly what I do now. I’m a voice and piano teacher. I music direct for several colleges, children’s theatres, high schools. See, when I was growing up, I always knew I was gonna do something with music and I was gonna do something with children because those are my two loves.

Tony: I’ve been really touched and honored because a lot of the generation that grew up with Box, the kids, and their parents have reached out and expressed online and in person how much the show has meant to them.

Vivian: ♪ Goodbye for now until we meet again. ♪

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