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Pokémon Live!

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Pokémon Live! CD soundtrack cover

Pokémon Live! was a musical based on the anime, though it is not in the same continuity. It ran in the United States from September 2000 to January 2001. A Portuguese language version played at the Pavilhão Atlântico in Lisbon, Portugal from March 21 to March 27, 2002, and a Dutch version at the Sportpaleis in Antwerp, Belgium on April 6 and 7, 2002. A United Kingdom tour was planned for 2002, but was canceled. The U.S. version of the musical did, however, have a brief tour in Dubai in March 2001 as part of the annual Dubai Shopping Festival, which usually lasts for thirty days. The musical was positively received, despite the Pokémon-related controversies that followed just shortly after.[1]

Two of the actors in Pokémon Live!, Darren Dunstan (Giovanni) and Andrew Rannells (James) went on to become voice actors for the 4Kids dub of the series.

Pokémon Live! is most notorious for featuring far more heavy romantic overtones than the series on which it is based. In particular, Misty's feelings for Ash are outright stated and a large source of angst for her character. The show was also the inspiration for DiamondShipping, named after the Diamond Badge Giovanni offers to Trainers. During the events of the story, Delia reveals to Professor Oak that she once dated Giovanni when they were teenagers, though she left his gang after meeting Ash's father. This backstory, however, outright contradicts the Japanese-only audio dramas on the origins of Team Rocket.

Plot

A mysterious Gym Leader is offering Trainers the chance to come challenge him for his one-of-a-kind prize, the Diamond Badge, and Ash has decided to accept the challenge. He declines the opportunity to join his mom and Professor Oak in attending a lecture on Snorlax sleeping disorders, given by the world-renowned Pokémon expert Professor Xalrons. After they leave, Misty and Brock come in on Ash as he starts dancing to the theme song. Quickly getting himself dressed, Ash remarks that he intends to win the Diamond Badge. Misty, however, is upset with Ash because he never made good on his promise to take her to the movies for her birthday three weeks ago. Ash vows to find some way to make it up soon, insisting that his life regarding Pokémon is just as important ("You & Me & Pokémon").

At the mysterious Gym, some Trainers come to challenge the Gym Leader, but they are all defeated by his super-robot Pokémon, MechaMew2, whose only technique is that it can copy the attacks of its challengers and use it against them. After the Trainers leave in defeat, the Gym Leader, revealing himself to be Giovanni, gloats about how MechaMew2, based on the powerful Mewtwo he once owned, will soon have a complete collection of attacks ("It Will All Be Mine"). Noticing that the only attacks it hasn't learned yet are Thunder Shock and Thunderbolt, he orders Jessie, James, and Meowth to go capture Pikachu.

In the forest, Team Rocket digs up one of their pit traps, intending for "the twerps" to fall into it. However, Ash and friends simply pass by it, singing "My Best Friends", without any problems. When Jessie and James come out of hiding to see what went wrong, they find that they left the supports in, and they make the mistake of pulling them out and falling into the trap themselves. Frustrated Meowth walks off to get a rope.

Meanwhile, Delia and Professor Oak approach the run-down old building where the Snorlax lecture is being held. As they're entering, Delia admits that she fears she's losing touch with her son as he's growing up; the Professor replies that she shouldn't worry so much, as things never stay the same for long ("Everything Changes"). Just as they finish singing, Rocket Grunts come out and surround them, and take them to Giovanni. It turns out the Snorlax lecture was actually a trap devised by Giovanni to lure Professor Oak into his clutches so he couldn't interfere with his plan. The boss also recognizes Delia as an old friend of his, who insists everything between them was in the past ("Everything Changes (Reprise 1)").

Back in the forest, Ash, Misty, and Brock get lost, because Brock accidentally threw the map away while talking to a female Trainer earlier. They then come upon a deaf Trainer, who agrees to share his map with them if "the guy with the weird hair" agrees to battle with him. Ash accepts the challenge, only to find that the deaf Trainer has Jigglypuff in his arsenal. Jigglypuff's song puts all but its Trainer to sleep, and it starts drawing on their faces as the deaf Trainer leaves them his map. After they leave, Misty wakes up and cleans Jigglypuff's drawings off Ash's face, while singing to herself about her feelings for him and fears of rejection ("Misty's Song"). Ash soon wakes up, wondering whose voice he just heard singing, to which Misty answers by saying he probably just heard a side effect of Jigglypuff's song. With the map in possession again, the trio continues their journey.

Meanwhile, Meowth returns to the pit with the rope and finds his teammates sleeping as a result of Jigglypuff's song. As they climb out, he complains about their incompetence and berates them on what failures they are. Jessie and James become depressed from the realization that Meowth is right about them being failures, but he quickly cheers them up by telling them that being failures is at least something they're perfect at doing ("The Best at Being the Worst"). This brings Jessie and James back to full confidence, and they continue after their target, with Meowth wondering if he should have taken up psychiatry.

At Cerulean Blue Lagoon, Ash declares to Misty and Brock that he's going to use Pikachu in the battle against the Gym Leader. As they sing and dance to "Pikachu (I Choose You)", Team Rocket comes up behind them in their Magikarp submarine and, while they're not looking, snatches Pikachu. When he sees that Pikachu has vanished, Ash tells Misty and Brock to split up and search for it, convinced that Team Rocket has captured his friend. Misty, however, suggests that maybe Pikachu has instead left Ash on its own free will, given his apparent habit of ignoring his friends. With that, she leaves Ash to ponder her words ("The Time Has Come (Pikachu's Goodbye)").

At Giovanni's Gym, Delia and Professor Oak are hanging in cages above his battle arena. After a failed attempt to break free, the Professor asks Delia why Giovanni recognized her. She explains that, when she was a teenager, she used to hang out with a gang of troublemakers (who later became Team Rocket, which conflicts with their back-story given on Japanese-only audio dramas) led by Giovanni; she eventually left them when she met Ash's father, and she has never told this to her son, because she fears he wouldn't understand. After this flashback, Giovanni enters to boast to them about his MechaMew2, during which he sings his dark reprise of "You & Me & Pokémon". Immediately following this, Jessie, James and Meowth show up with the captured Pikachu (while singing "Double Trouble"), and Giovanni orders to them to have it attack MechaMew2. Pikachu instead responds to Jessie and James's orders by shocking them, during which they flip a switch that causes Delia and the Professor’s cages to open and allow them to escape. Giovanni realizes he'll need Pikachu's Trainer for it to listen to, and tells Jessie and James to bring him the Trainer.

In the woods, Misty admits to Brock that she didn't really mean it when she said Pikachu probably chose to leave Ash; she only said it because she wanted him to realize he's alienating his friends by ignoring them. As she wonders why guys like Ash can't notice pretty girls like herself more often, Brock remarks that it's the opposite problem with him, where he notices girls too often, especially Officer Jenny and Nurse Joy ("Two Perfect Girls"). Misty instead ignores him and continues to pine for Ash. Elsewhere in the woods, Delia continues discussing her past with the Professor and how she can't bring herself to tell Ash about it, and Ash tries to face up to the fact that he may have to go on without Pikachu ("I've Got a Secret").

Eventually, the groups all come together, and Professor Oak tells Ash that Team Rocket's leader is holding Pikachu hostage. Delia then confesses to Ash about her past acquaintance with Giovanni, but to her surprise, Ash understands completely. Just then, Team Rocket shows up on scooters, demanding Ash to come with them. To their surprise, he agrees to do so, while Delia says to the others that she has realized that maybe change isn’t such a bad thing ("Everything Changes (Reprise 2)").

After Team Rocket brings Ash to him, Giovanni releases Pikachu and then introduces MechaMew2 to him. He then allows Ash to have the Diamond Badge for the duration of the fight, saying he'll retrieve it afterwards, because "[he] just can't win". Ash orders Pikachu to Thunder Shock, then Thunderbolt MechaMew2, but to his surprise, the mechanical beast suffers no damage, and Giovanni proclaims that he's won now that MechaMew2 has learned every single attack. He then orders MechaMew2 to attack the both of them, but suddenly the real Mewtwo appears and sends an attack of its own to its mechanical counterpart. Nothing seems to happen, but to Giovanni's surprise, MechaMew2 begins speaking and rebels against him, saying Mewtwo has taught it the value of love and goodness, and therefore can no longer Giovanni's evil scheme to go forth. Grabbing Team Rocket's leader by the neck, it prepares to perform a Self-Destruct, despite Giovanni's attempts to offer a compromise, and promptly explodes. Afterward, Mewtwo explains to Ash that it used a collection of Ash's happy memories to turn MechaMew2 against its creator, and then leaves just as Misty, Brock, Delia, and the Professor arrive. Ash, finding the Diamond Badge still in his pocket, declares that he won the battle, and decides to give it to Misty as a belated birthday gift ("Finale").

Characters

Humans

Pokémon

Cast

Songs

A soundtrack for the musical was released entitled Pokémon Gotta Catch 'em Live!.

Production

The idea for Pokémon Live! was conceived by the president of 4Kids Productions, Norman J. Grossfeld. The show was directed and choreographed Luis Perez, and was written by Michael Slade. Musical Direction was done by John Loeffler and John Siegler, who have both written songs for the Pokémon anime. Set production was done by Hotopp Associates Limited, and Lighting Design by David Agress Lighting, Inc. Costumes for Pokémon Live! were designed by Yvette Helin Studios, who also assisted Geppetto Studios in creating seventeen standee Pokémon puppets.

Trivia

  • Dee Roscioli and Patrick Frankfort, who portray Delia and the Professor in the original English version of the production, were notably in a romantic relationship. This is referenced by Ash telling Professor Oak, "Don't bring my mom home too late!" Roscioli would later move on to play Elphaba in the Chicago and Broadway productions of Wicked.
  • According to the Playbill like program of the show, Ikue Ohtani and Maddie Blaustein reprised their roles of Pikachu and Meowth respectively, the only two actors from the anime to do so. However, considering Ikue's role in the dub is just a reuse of her vocal work in the Japanese version and that this show is US produced, it's doubtful she actually recorded lines for the show. It's more likely the producers just reused audio clips from the anime to voice Pikachu. This, along with the fact that Meowth says lines that he never said in the anime, means that Maddie Blaustein is likely the only actor from the anime cast to reprise her role from the anime and actually contribute a new performance for the show, although, a behind the stage member of the show has confirmed, in the comments of a YouTube video, that Ikue Ohtani came to the rehearsals of the show.
    • The only other credited voice actor, Jay Goede as Mewtwo, is not reprising the role. Mewtwo was previously played by Philip Bartlett in Mewtwo Strikes Back and by Dan Green in Mewtwo Returns, which premiered in 2001, halfway through the show's run.
    • While Jigglypuff and Psyduck appear in the show as costumed characters and have actors listed for wearing the suits, there are no listed voice actors. Considering they just said their names like in the show, archive recordings of Rachael Lillis as Jigglypuff and Michael Haigney as Psyduck were most likely used.

References

  1. Young and old enjoy Pokemon - Gulfnews

External link

Pokémon Live!
Characters: AshMistyBrockPikachuJessieJamesMeowthGiovanniMechaMew2DeliaProfessor Oak
Songs: You & Me & PokémonIt Will All Be MineMy Best FriendsEverything ChangesMisty's SongThe Best at Being the WorstPikachu (I Choose You)What Kind of Pokémon Are You?The Time Has ComeDouble TroubleTwo Perfect GirlsI've Got a SecretYou Just Can't WinFinale