May 1, 2013

Scooby-Doo rocks in musical tour

Posted in Between Us column, Entertainment, Television at 6:07 am by dinaheng

His name makes youngsters scream, parents smile, and ghosts quiver. He’ll do anything for a snack — if his best buddy sidekick doesn’t eat it first — and now, he’s shaking his famous paws in the live stage performance of “Scooby-Doo Live! Musical Mysteries.”

The Great Dane that has captivated television audiences for decades and the rest of the  Mystery Inc. Gang stars in the musical’s first North American tour, with an upcoming appearance at The Dolby® Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday, May 12, in three back-to-back performances on Mother’s Day.Dinah Eng

The show, presented by Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Life Like Touring, is one of many stage productions developed by the touring company in Melbourne, Australia. In 2009, Life Like Touring — which has written, produced and managed live theater show tours pegged to brands like Sesame Street, BEN 10 and Dora the Explorer — was approached by Warner Bros. with a portfolio of brands it wanted to develop.

“We choose brands that have a positive message for kids, and Scooby-Doo is big around the world,” says Anton Berezin, producer and head of Life Like Touring. “My wife (Theresa Borg) wrote the music and the script, and we did the first three tours in 2011 and 2012 in Australia. Warner Bros. saw it as a fresh approach to the brand, and gave us a chance to do it internationally.”

The show’s humor was tweaked for American audiences, and content was rewritten to make the musical fun for parents, as well as children. In the interactive production, the Scooby-Doo gang investigates a ghostly mystery that is pegged to each local theater, giving performances a truly local feel.

“It’s a thrill to be playing at The Dolby® Theatre, where the Academy Awards take place,” Berezin says. ”There’ll be Hollywood references so the kids feel the drama’s playing out in the theater they’re in. In York, Pa., we reference Big Foot, where in Australia, we talk about koalas and kangaroos. We’ve creating a show with an original story, and a shared experience, without forgetting that the primary audience is the kids.”

The producer says the Scooby-Doo brand is so beloved because the values the characters promote are so positive.

“The characters are teenagers you’d trust your kids with,” Berezin says. “They’re role models. They solve issues having to do with overcoming fear, problem-solving, cooperation, teamwork, and helping people.”

Melissa Rapelje, who plays Daphne Blake in the show, says the most challenging aspect of her role is portraying an iconic character that audiences have watched on television since 1969.

Photo of Melissa Rapelje as Daphne in "Scooby-Doo Live! Musical Mysteries"  courtesy of Life Like Touring.

Photo of Melissa Rapelje as Daphne in “Scooby-Doo Live! Musical Mysteries” courtesy of Life Like Touring. 

“I watched the show in the ‘90s growing up, and my parents grew up watching it,” Rapelje says. “I actually wanted to be Daphne, with her purple dress and purple shoes.”

Happily, Rapelje got her wish, playing the redhead who’s usually in a bevel position…  you know, that pose perfected by beauty queens where one leg is straight, while the other is slightly bent with the foot pointing, and one hand is on the hip.

“The common misconception is that Daphne’s a party girl with no brains, but she always partakes in the mystery and helps to solve it,” Rapelje says. “She’s so fun-loving and cares so much about each member of the gang. In this show, she takes charge of setting us up as a band, and is all about love, friendship, and fashion.”

As for the rest of the gang, Rapelje says Velma (Michele Dumoulin) is the true brains of the operation, while Freddy (Noah Michael Fish) is always in charge and the leader of the group. Shaggy (Garrett Lewis) and Scooby (Cody Collier) are always used in Freddy’s traps as the bait, and are always the first ones to be in touch with the ghosts.

“It’s about people you wouldn’t think would get along, and they do because of a common goal,” she notes. “Plus, Scooby-Doo is the cutest dog in the world.”

Tickets to The Dolby® Theatre performances range from $25 to the $85 VIP Ticket Package, which offers a pre-show meet and greet, photo with Scooby-Doo, music, and goodie bag, and are available through Ticketmaster.com (plus booking fees), by phone at 1-800-745-3000, and at The Dolby® Theatre Box Office (hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

The North American tour runs through June 16. For more information, tour dates and cities, check out http://www.scoobydoolive.com/.

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