LITTLE FALLS -- A Little Falls community theater troupe is bringing one of television's most popular cartoon series to life in the stage version of "Scooby Doo! Where Are You?"
The comedy-mystery features the teen-age super-sleuths of Mystery, Inc. and their trusted companion Scooby Doo, the Great Dane.
The famous cartoon series captured young Saturday morning television viewers for more than a decade, starting in the late 1960s. Over the years, it has wooed new audiences in syndication and with occasional original installments for the Cartoon Network on cable.
Staged by You Betcha! Productions, "Scooby Doo!" opens July 19 for a four-performance run in Charles Martin Auditorium at Little Falls High School.
"I enjoy bringing the cartoonish type shows to life with their crazy costumes and wild colors, and you can let go with your creativity and do what you want," said Jason Schommer, who not only directs the production but plays a major role as well.
"This is good summer entertainment, something light, and all you have to do is walk through the door, take a seat and enjoy a good laugh," he said.
Schommer and Mary Jo Morgan, both Little Falls community theater veterans, founded You Betcha' Productions last year as an adjunct to the Hole in the Day Players, which regularly stages musicals and dinner theater productions for area audiences.
"We wanted to open it up to whatever we wanted to do, whenever we wanted to do them," Schommer said, adding that You Betcha' operates under the umbrella of Hole in the Day's nonprofit structure.
Hole in the Day has helped underwrite the costs of producing "Scooby Doo!" and proceeds from ticket sales are pooled to support both theater troupes, Schommer said.
"Scooby Doo!" features area actors as the team of amateur teen-age detectives of Mystery, Inc., including Bob Thesing as Fred, Sarah Brown as Daphne, Sarah Pasela as Velma and Tyler Bieniek as Shaggy.
Chris Plakut stars as Scooby Doo, the central character in the cartoon series, as well as "Scooby Doo!" Where Are You," the only live theatrical offspring of the television program.
In this case the sleuths are called in to solve a mystery that involves ghosts, Egyptian antiquities, a famous actress (played by Morgan) and an unscrupulous theatrical director (played by Schommer).
The brightly colored costumes and sets will resemble those familiar to television fans of the cartoon series, Schommer said.
A 1992 Little Falls graduate, Schommer holds a theater degree from the University of Minnesota-Morris, awarded in 1997.
He has served internships with the "Rosie O'Donnell Show" in New York City, as well as with the Broadway production house that staged the multiple Tony Award-winning musical "The Producers."
"We are targeting a younger audience with 'Scooby Doo'," Schommer said, "but a lot of young adults who grew up with the cartoon series are extremely interested in the show as well."
Show times are 7:30 p.m. July 19-21 and 2 p.m. July 22. Tickets are $5 at the gate. For more information, contact Schommer at (320) 616-5772.
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