Scooby Dooby Doo, where are you? Van Wert!

VAN WERT — Something doesn’t smell right at the Niswonger Performing Center. Luckily the whole gang is on the way in the trusty Mystery Machine and will be in Van Wert on Saturday to find out who’s scaring South American music lovers away.

Tomorrow the Montreal-based production company, Monlove, will stage 0ne of the most beloved international franchises of all time right in Van Wert. That’s where Scooby-Doo and his meddling, mystery-solving friends will embark on a new adventure to solve a brand new mystery brought to life with cutting-edge technology, original music and theatrics.

Monlove founder Ella Louise Allaire and Martin Lord Ferguson created the show’s original storyline, music and lyrics. The pair are renowned for their past adaptations of bringing animated characters to live theatre.

Allaire and Ferguson took on the Mystery Inc. project because it represents loyalty, humor, ingenuity, and teamwork.

“I like the symmetry of having two males and two females with the dog. It equalizes gender and empowers boys and girls,” Allaire said via telephone. “It provides an opportunity to laugh — if nothing else, the world needs humor right now.”

Scooby is an outsized animatronic puppeteer-operated character that took 1,600 hours and 12 designers to create. Scooby, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne and Fred travel to fictional town in South America to solve the mysterious case of ghostly sightings threatening to scare customers away the town’s annual music festival and Incan sun god celebration.

The gang follows a trail of extinct purple irises through a labyrinth of mystery. They encounter the usual suspects such as Miguel the groundskeeper, Luis the llama, Professor Falcone, the Pachacuties, and Ayar Manco (the 13th-century founder of the Incan civilization).

The stage production features a mix of live singing, dancing, dialogue, 16 original songs, puppetry, interactive video, magic, aerial arts, acrobatics and video.

Allaire says the show leaves no population segment behind as there is something for everyone.

“We can all learn a lot from Scooby and his friends. This production is for anyone from 2 to 102,” Allaire said. “There’s something for all ages. Singing, dancing, acrobats and lots of laughing. It’s a good show to take the whole family out to the theater.”

The show was initially supposed to kick off with a 100-city tour in March 2020 until the pandemic put a hiatus on everything. Currently, the show is piecing together a tour on the fly, with Saturday’s performance at Niswonger to be the sixth live performance of 2o scheduled to date.

“It’s amazing to be back after so long without theatre,” Allaire said. “It’s like the final climax.”

And the best part of the live performance remains the same as it always has for Allaire.

“Seeing the faces of all the children,” she stated emphatically. “It’s an amazing feeling. It’s my life’s greatest pleasure to see the smile on their faces and to hear the laughs. Not just from little kids, but kids of all ages. That is the payoff in the end.”

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Scooby-Doo and the gang will be on the stage at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert at 7 p.m. Saturday with “Scooby-Doo and the Lost City of Gold.” Tickets are still available via©monlove2021_16.jpgScooby-Doo and the gang will be on the stage at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert at 7 p.m. Saturday with “Scooby-Doo and the Lost City of Gold.” Tickets are still available via Photo courtesy of Monlove Creations Inc. | Warner Bros. Consumer Products

By Joe Gilroy

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