For those who were just blooming into Nickelodeon in the late 80s and early 90s(or as I like to call them 80s babies) then you could remember a certain puppet show called Eureeka’s Castle that certainly differentiated the network. Eureeka’s Castle dealt with a community of puppets living in a community of a castle music box and certain sing-a longs were put in the show. The show is even more known because of it being the first ever Nick Jr, series and co-created by famed author R.L Stine, pre Goosebumps mania. While reading you can hear from Cheryl Blaylock, who voiced the main protagonist Eureeka, on how life was like for her when shooting at Nick Studios.
1. How did you get to work for Eureeka’s Castle?
I auditioned along with a small group of colleagues who I’d worked with on Sesame Street and other Muppet projects. At that time, the world of television puppeteers was quite small and we all knew each other.
2. What was your first impression of the Nickelodeon Studios when you got there?
It was exciting to be a part of something brand new. A whole new concept to have a working studio inside the theme park and actually try to be part of the attractions people go to as well. A little risky for us, but not as revealing as say, an actor getting their makeup done and having a stream of visitors on the other side of a window.
3. What was a typical day like being there?
A little like driving onto a Hollywood studio lot in the sense that you get that special VIP feeling of going past the guard to your special reserved parking space. The stages were just getting started and there was an expectation of excellent work going on in each soundstage. I do remember the Florida heat and humidity! Inside the studio was freezing cold air-conditioning, so I wore layers of clothing, and I would go outside to warm up! Lunch hours were fun. We got to know all the restaurants in the park, one by one.
4. Were there any differences between shooting in NYC versus Orlando?
Well, it was home…! Lifestyle was quite different, but inside the studio the crew was professional and very accommodating to us Yankees.
5. Do you remember other shows taping there at the same time you were?
My friend Charlotte Booker was taping her show, “Hi Honey I’m Home” in another studio. We were both so busy we never got a chance to see each other!
6. Do you still own the Eureeka puppet?
The Eureeka puppet is owned by Three Design Studio, who built her. I believe she’s safely ensconced in a storage box somewhere.
7. Did you ever get to keep any type of props at the studio?
No, the production companies are usually very careful about that. I did have the honor of receiving a beautiful sculpture of Eureeka made by Kip Rathke, who built the puppet. He made it for my birthday.
8. One of the highlights was the studio tour where the guests can see you all film or rehearse or have hair/make up done from a glass monitor up above. How often was it that you got to interact with the fans?
That was one of the high points for me. I used to think of the glass tube at the top of the studio wall like those lava lamps that have the wave rolling back and forth. A never-ending dance of tourists and air. Luckily, they had a person who’s job it was to be the “floor manager” (we had a real floor manager who was too busy managing the production to stop and talk to the tourists, so they provided one to interact with them). Whenever I got a chance I would go over and talk to them with Eureeka. One day there was a little girl who was waving her hand frantically, desperate to ask a question. When we called on her she was so stunned that all she could do was blurt out, “I, I, I, I, I love you, Eureeka!” Oh, that filled my heart with joy. The disadvantage of working on television as opposed to live theatre is you never really get a sense of the impact of your work.
9. What was one of the good things about living and working in Orlando?
Driving around in a convertible!
10. Have you ever been slimed?
I never got slimed. I feel so deprived! Actually, it seemed like the slime era had just ended when Eureeka’s Castle came around.
11. Did you have a favorite ride at Universal Studios Florida?
King Kong. The banana breath was genius.
12. Do you think your experience being there was a learning process in terms of the work you do now in a beneficial way?
Ah yes, it’s all a learning experience. Life.
13. How do you feel knowing that Eureeka’s Castle and the rest of 80s & 90s Nickelodeon shows made such a positive impact on fans and is still loved today?
I’m always surprised when I hear a statement like that. I know from talking to people about our fan’s age – they either never heard of the show or “OMG, You’re Eureeeeeeka??” One woman told me her family still has the tradition of watching the Christmas special on a worn-down VHS tape every year!
14. What do you think made Nick Studios so great and special?
I especially liked the live shows and the theme restaurants.
15. Would you like to see it be re-opened?
Of course! Yes!