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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.
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.
Pokémon Live! was planned to have a home video release around the time that the Pokémon tour had finished. Much later in 2016, in an interview with GameInformer; Michael Slade stated that prior to production of the musical that he had no knowledge of Pokémon whatsoever aside from who Pikachu was. He was sent a copy of Mewtwo Strikes Back to help him study for the production. He watched the film several times before starting to understand it better.
Michael Slade was only given a few weeks to get the full script completed with each act being written in roughly a week. During this time, Ikue Ōtani also looked over the script for approval of when Pikachu would speak during production and recorded lines specifically for use in Pokémon Live!.
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").
Right after the Ash and his friends set off on their journey, the scene suddenly switches over to the Team Rocket trio, reciting their motto to the audience. After Jessie and James engage in taunting the audience with ad-libbed insults based on where they're performing, Meowth berates them and informs them that Giovanni wants to see them right now. They report to Giovanni as he is singing about his current world-domination scheme ("It Will All Be Mine"). The boss orders them to bring them Pikachu, alive and unharmed. Right after Jessie, James, and Meowth leave, it is then revealed to the audience that Giovanni is the mysterious Gym Leader offering the Diamond Badge. Some Trainers come to challenge him, but they are all defeated by his super-robot Pokémon, MechaMew2, a robot based on the powerful Mewtwo he once owned, whose only technique is that it can copy the attacks of its challengers and use it against them. After the Trainers leave in defeat, Giovanni gloats about how MechaMew2 will soon have a complete collection of attacks.
Ash and his friends make their way into the forest, with Ash gushing about how good an achievement the Diamond Badge must be, while Brock goes off to flirt with some nearby female Trainers, only to be rejected by each one. Misty tries to tell Ash that there is more to life than battling for Gym Badges, and remarks to him that since the Diamond Badge is one-of-a-kind, it will likely be much harder to obtain than the ones he got from her sisters or Brock. Ash retorts that winning Badges are a special symbol, "like when your teacher gives you a gold star, or when your parents give you your own keys to the car, or a guy gives a girl her own ring to wear." Brock comes back from being rejected by the girls he's just flirting with, but just as Misty starts arguing with him, Ash stops the fight by leading them in singing "My Best Friends".
Up ahead, Team Rocket is digging up one of their pit traps, intending for "the twerps" to fall into it, but to their dismay, Ash and friends simply walk over the pit with no 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, Giovanni shows up and has his Rocket Grunts surround and capture them. 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 have gotten lost, because Brock accidentally threw the map away while talking to the female Trainers earlier. They then cross paths with 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 a 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 ("maybe you missed his birthday too"), 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 locked in a cage by 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 backstory 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 the story, 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"). Giovanni is pleased with this, as Pikachu possesses the only attacks MechaMew2 has not yet learned, and he orders Jessie and James 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 cage 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. Brock starts teasing her about her feelings for Ash, but Misty retorts that Brock is no different in that regard, given his flirting with the female Trainers earlier, as well as his feelings for Officer Jenny and Nurse Joy, to which Brock responds by suddenly singing "Two Perfect Girls". After he finishes, Misty drags him back into looking for Pikachu, but secretly soliloquizes about her pining 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").
Right after the song, the groups come together. Misty and Brock inform Ash that they couldn't find Pikachu, so Ash decides he'll have to try and win the Diamond Badge without him. Professor Oak and Delia then tell Ash that Team Rocket's leader is holding Pikachu hostage. Ash, now knowing he was right about Pikachu not running out on him, resolves that he will go save Pikachu. Before he and his friends can get going, though, Delia confesses to Ash about her past acquaintance with Giovanni, saying she didn't want him to find it out from Giovanni himself. Just then, Team Rocket shows up on scooters, but before they can recite their motto, Ash demands them to take him to Giovanni. Jessie and James question why their task is so easy, but they go ahead and take Ash off to the Gym. The others try to follow, but Meowth tells them Giovanni only wants Ash, leaving Delia to wonder if she did the right thing in telling Ash about her past ("Everything Changes (Reprise 2)").
After Team Rocket brings Ash to him, Giovanni, annoyed with their presence orders them to leave the arena, and they do so, crashing their scooters offstage. Giovanni releases Pikachu and then introduces MechaMew2 to him. He allows Ash to have the Diamond Badge for the duration of the fight, saying he'll retrieve it afterwards. Ash orders Pikachu to use Thunder Shock, followed by Thunderbolt, but to his surprise, MechaMew2 suffers no damage, and Giovanni proclaims that he has won, as those were the last attacks MechaMew2 needed to learn.
Ash valiantly stands up to Giovanni and refuses to let him get away with his victory ("You Just Can't Win"), but Giovanni orders MechaMew2 to attack the both of them with a Hyper Beam. But when it does, a force-field appears around Ash and Pikachu, protecting them, as an off-screen voice proclaims that "the boy will not be harmed." The bearer of the voice then steps in - it is the original Mewtwo. Ash doesn't recognize him, but Giovanni does and brags about the superiority of his mechanical replica. Mewtwo is unimpressed and accepts Giovanni's offer to battle MechaMew2. Ash begs Mewtwo not to do so, fearing MechaMew2 will just copy the Psychic attacks, but Mewtwo tells Ash that "the true power is within you," and then sends visions of Ash's happy memories (shown as rapidly-displayed clips on the screens) to MechaMew2. 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 from Ash's memories, and therefore can no longer let 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 tells Mewtwo to get Ash and Pikachu out while he still can. Giovanni, managing to escape MechaMew2's grasp just before it explodes, curses Mewtwo for defeating him again, but as Mewtwo takes Ash and Pikachu out of the building, he remarks that "this time it was not me, it was the boy."
Later, an unconscious Ash wakes up back in the forest with his mom and his friends gathered around him. He says he has just battling Giovanni but he has no memory of what happened, but he tells his mother that he still loves her even despite her past acquaintance with Team Rocket. He then finds the Diamond Badge still in his pocket and remembers that Giovanni gave it to him before the battle. He says he isn't sure if he really deserves it, so, taking a suggestion from Pikachu, he gives it to Misty as a belated birthday gift ("Finale").
A soundtrack for the musical was released entitled Pokémon Gotta Catch 'em Live!.
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.
Performance dates and locations
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Please feel free to edit this section to add missing information and complete it.
| November 2-5, 2000
|| Columbus, Ohio
| November 8-12, 2000
|| Indianapolis, Indiana
| November 15-19, 2000
|| Fairfax, Virginia
| November 22-26, 2000
|| Atlanta, Georgia
| November 29-December 3, 2000
|| Charlotte, North Carolina
| December 5-10, 2000
|| Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
| December 12-13, 2000
|| Lowell, Massachusetts
| December 14-17, 2000
|| Worcester, New York
| December 27-31, 2000
|| Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Dee Roscioli and Patrick Frankfort, who portrayed Delia and Professor Oak in the U.S. tour, were in a romantic relationship at the time. This is referenced by Ash telling Professor Oak, "Don't bring my mom home too late!"
- According to the show's program, Ikue Ohtani, Maddie Blaustein and Jay Goede reprised their roles of Pikachu, Meowth and Mewtwo respectively. Goede is credited by his real name in Pokémon Live! instead of his stage name, Philip Bartlett, which was used in Mewtwo Strikes Back. Jigglypuff and Psyduck's voices are uncredited but are possibly archive recordings of Rachael Lillis and Michael Haigney, respectively. No other voice actors are known to have reprised their roles from the anime in this production.
- Dennis Kenney, the actor who played Brock, appeared as a host in the Pokémon Insider promotional video. The video includes a clip of himself (in character as Brock) performing the song Two Perfect Girls.
- Both Pokémon Insider and Pokémon.com at the time claimed Pokémon Live! was to be aired on television and released on home video in the United States, but no such broadcast or release ever occurred. This was explained years later as due to a lack of financial success and a lack of interest that lead to the home video release being scrapped. Producer Chris Mitchell confirmed that a high definition professional recording was made but that plans for releasing it ended up falling through.
- Michael Slade stated in a 2016 interview with GameInformer that alongside MechaMew2, there was supposed to be one more Pokémon that Ash Ketchum would face off against that would attack using bubbles. It was scrapped late into production and forgotten about.
- Stage actors would get annoyed by children who were taking their Pokémon lights and pointing them at the stage during dark lighting moments.
- Some of the props were left behind in a now-abandoned theater (which never hosted the musical) in Canada before the show moved overseas and were discovered nearly 20 years later by urban explorers.