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Scooby-Doo in Stagefright

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Scooby-Doo in Stagefright is a live stage performance which debuted at the Kodak Theatre on April 5, 2005 and was directed by Jim Millan. The show was presented as a long-lost episode of the original late-1960s cartoon series.

"I wanted to lend the sense that the actors are stepping into the world of cartoons while on stage" - Jim Millan.

Premise

The team travel to Chicago in the Mystery Machine, where Daphne's uncle is making a horror film for Clawhammer Pictures. It seems the set is haunted by a ghost intent on driving away the film's stars and stealing jewels from the set. Daphne and her pals: Fred, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby, take it upon themselves to figure out who, or what, is behind the mysterious goings on. Though Fred thinks he's the leader of the gang, the real heroes solving mysteries are Shaggy and Scooby, who uncover every lead unwittingly.

Synopsis

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Development

In adapting the animated cartoon series for the stage, Millan, who also wrote the play, set out to do a big stage comedy that remained true to the original cartoon. To accomplish this goal, he decided to use the original orchestrations for the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series and old-time sound effects, such as the clapping of hollow coconuts for the sound of footsteps on a staircase, while the actors deliver their lines. No click tracks of prerecorded lines like families hear in such popular childrens stage shows as Sesame Street.

Bjorn Thorstad's voice was a dead-ringer for that of Shaggy. The actor in his twenties at the time, unlike the director-writer Millan, was not a Scooby-Doo fanatic when he was a kid, but he did love listening to Casey Kasem's American Top 40 on the radio when he was growing up in Colorado. Eventually Thorstad got to the point where he could imitate Kasem's laid-back and cool delivery. Kasem created the voice of Shaggy, and Thorstad had nailed Kasem's tenor and attack. Thorstad said there were certain aspects of Shaggy he could not change: the screechy voice, his laid-back, sardonic attack, the whole Casey Kasem style that became Shaggy, though his intention was to create a bigger and better Shaggy by stretching his character to some degree. As the reluctant bait for all the bad guys and super sluth, Thorstad appeared on stage for three-quarters of the show. He and the rest of the cast began to develop their own sense of animated movement.

By setting the play's action at a movie studio, Millan and his crew could apply theater magic, including monsters, trap doors, mirrors, costumes and everything a captivated audience would find at a movie studio where a horror picture is in the making. Elaborate chase scenes in hallways that verged on the Marx Brothers and Abbott and Costello. The magic of stage allowed for the quick changes that would only be possible in an actual cartoon, where Shaggy ran into a closet and immediately came out in another costume.

The stage production was developed to appeal to parents who grew up watching Scooby-Doo, and to children discovering Scooby-Doo for the first time. With dance numbers and music that allowed families who watched the show every day on TV, relate the show back to the cartoons, but inside the theater, enabling the youngsters to cheer on Scooby and Shaggy and have an effect, a relationship with the characters.

Reception

The play debuted just prior to the release of the Scooby-Doo movie, both were part of the Warner Bros. machine, but the play received kudos from the critics, while the movie did not. Neither Millan nor Thorstad commented on the movie.

Notes/trivia

  • A number of merchandise was sold during intervals including Scooby Snacks.

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