Charming characters from the popular animated series "Veggie Tales" will beckon area children to join them on another adventure when they plant themselves at Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville for two shows Sunday.

"Veggie Tales: God Made You Special, Live!" will be performed at 2 and 6 p.m. at the theater.

Children will meet Bob, Larry and the rest of the produce pals as they dabble with a new invention called the "weird-o-meter." Amid all kinds of craziness and mishaps, the characters learn much about how they're all different yet special.

"We've gotten a lot of positive feedback from audiences about the show," said Charley Redmond, tour producer for "Veggie Tales Live."

The production is currently on a 51-city tour which continues through Nov. 11.

"The best part for me is seeing the kids' faces light up," Redmond said.

The live shows are based on the computer animated "Veggie Tales" video series that began in 1993 by Big Idea Inc. Creators Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki of the Chicago-area, came up with the concept as a way to promote positive messages and other spiritually-based Christian values.

"Big Idea has sold more than 50 million CDs and DVDs over the last 15 years. "A lot of kids have grown up watching the characters," Redmond said.

He said when they mount the live shows, fans like to see familiar characters such as Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber in various situations.

Redmond said it's also attractive for parents.

"Bob and Larry are creative characters who have amazing personalities. On top of that, you add the positive moral messages and many parents are excited to let their kids watch the DVDs and listen to the CDs," Redmond said.

"One of the reasons people gravitate to the whole 'Veggie Tales" brand is, especially in the Christian market, it's the most creative thing to come along for kids ever," the tour producer said.

Redmond said, though the stories don't force feed the Biblical/spiritual messages in a preachy way, parents like that the stories have a "moral compass" while instilling virtues.

The producer said he's been working with "Veggie Tales Live" for the last 13 months. He finds the opening of the show -- where kids get their first glimpses of their favorite characters -- to be the best part of the night.

"They go nuts. It's like they're seeing a rock and roll star," he said, adding they readily sing along with the cast.

During a recent show in Alabama, he said, even parents were singing along to familiar songs.

Redmond said the company Big Idea was "a couple of guys who had a great idea. It's a real 'rags-to-riches' story," he said.

While Big Idea was long based in Chicago, Redmond said it's now in Nashville, Tenn., where the Christian music industry is based.

One of the upcoming live shows on the "Veggie Tales" roster will be a Christmas themed tour, scheduled for the 2009 holiday season.