Last year, after living together for 14 years, I learned something disturbing about my wife that had somehow never emerged… She doesn’t like Scooby-Doo. This came as a real surprise to me, as I’d been known to wear the occasional Scooby t-shirt over the years, but I guess we’d never really discussed it before. Too bad for my wife, since thanks to Cartoon Network and a certain 36-year-old 3½-year-old (Addie), Scooby-Doo makes frequent appearances here at Rock Father HQ.
When I found out that Scooby-Doo Live! Musical Mysteries would be making a local stop on it’s North American Tour, I saw an opportunity to introduce Addie to the world of musical theater for the first time. With two performances set to take place at The Genesee Theatre in Waukegan, Illinois, I opted for the early show (noon) and the entire family got to experience the glory first hand. Yes, I was a little leary of taking an 8-month-old to the show, but baby Finley made it through pretty well. In fact, there were quite a few families in attendance that brought infants with them, so if anything – seeing others was a relief. It took some digging, but earlier in the morning I pulled out my old classic “We’ve Got Some Work to Do Now” shirt from Threadless (pictured left)… which I promptly covered with a zip-up hoodie to avoid having to explain to someone else’s kids what was actually going on there.
Scooby-Doo Live! Musical Mysteries began with a run down-under, produced by Australian company, Life Like Touring along with Warner Bros. Consumer Products. After finding success in Oz, they brought the production to North America with the Australian tour’s creative team: writer/director Theresa Borg, composer Craig Bryant, and choreographer Katie Ditchburn, an all-new cast, and an impressive 70+ theatre schedule.
Following the basic formula for an episode of Scooby-Doo, Musical Mysteries takes inspiration from the excellent Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated series (sadly set to wrap-up after it’s 52nd episode later this year), with Scooby and the Mystery Inc. gang starting their adventure in Crystal Cove, aka “The Most Hauntedest Place on Earth.” Outfitted in their modern-retro costumes (essentially the same as their 1969 debut), Fred Jones (Noah Michael Fish), Daphne Blake (Melissa Rapeije), Velma Dinkley (Michele Dumoulin), Shaggy Rogers (Garrett Dill), and Scooby-Doo (Cody Collier – credited as “Friend of Scooby-Doo”) hop in The Mystery Machine and hit the road after a mysterious letter arrives, inviting them to investigate a haunted theatre. The interactive presentation allows the cast to seamlessly swap locations with whatever real-life town and venue they happen to be performing in, so our crowd was treated to localized dialogue that included “Waukegan” and “The Genesee Theatre” as the location of the action.
When Scooby first arrives, he makes a grand entrance by emerging in the middle of the audience. The music was pumping, and seeing the look of excitement on Addie’s face almost brought a tear of joy to my eye (almost – felt it coming, but it didn’t fully happen). One quick scan of the crowd, and I was overwhelmed with happiness as the kids were really getting into it. With plenty of moments for foot-stompin’ and hand-clappin’, the audience was also called-upon to shout “Ghost!” whenever a spirit would happen to appear. This was the one thing that managed to scare the infants in the crowd (mine included), but the older kids loved it.
In a plot-point that fits in perfectly with what I do here on The Rock Father, the Mystery Inc. crew arrives at the theatre under the guise of “Missing Link,” a popular rock band in the midst of a World Tour. Who knew that Scooby-Doo was highly-skilled behind a drum kit? With the rest of the gang rounding out the band, there’s plenty of original songs to rock out with, along with two renditions of the classic theme-song ripe for sing-along.
If you’re even casually-familiar with Scooby-Doo, then it’s no SPOILER when I say that the gang is able to solve the mystery of the theatre ghost, complete with a classic “unmasking” and a scolding for those “Meddling Kids!” But who was haunting the theatre, and why were they doing it? For that, my friends, you’ll have to attend a performance of Scooby-Doo Live! Musical Mysteries for yourselves.
During our performance, there was one minor technical glitch in which the sound went out for a few moments (moments that I’m sure felt like forever for the cast and crew), and while the mics and music went down, Dill and Collier as Shaggy and Scooby kept it rockin’ like true pros, projecting their voices and seamlessly continuing until everything was back up and running.
Our tickets (which were graciously provided to us by the promoter) came complete with goodie bags packed with an inflatable Scooby-Doo, temporary tattoos, window clings, stickers, water paints, and a souvenir poster/progam. These bags were a huge hit, so I’d recommend looking into the different ticket packages available in your area to make sure you get one. Our row happened to be the cut-off for the bags, so I gave our extras to some families behind us.
Oh, and as for my usually-non-Scooby-appreciating wife? Even she enjoyed the show…
Scooby-Doo Live! Musical Mysteries continues its run through the U.S. and Canada into June. For locations and tickets, visit http://scoobydoolive.com/
The Rock Father Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
BONUS! Fun Facts: I’m no stranger to The Genesee Theatre. In 2004, I was one of the first three people to be interviewed on the then-soon-to-reopen theatre’s stage during an NBC story about local film production. I was also in attendance on December 3, 2004 – the night it re-opened with two shows headlined by Bill Cosby. Pre-restoration, I also assisted in some filming in front of the theatre (as it sported a very different look) that served as test-footage for the motion picture entitled 5-25-77.
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