Thriller Theater Five: Scooby-Doo Meets Happy Days | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Thriller Theater Five: Scooby-Doo Meets Happy Days 

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Thriller Theater Five: Scooby-Doo Meets Happy Days, Argos Agency, at ImprovOlympic. This year the kinky cartoon gang travels dozens of miles (and two decades back) to 1950s Milwaukee, where Fonzie, Richie, et al are struggling to rid beloved burger joint Arnold's of a ghost. Cast members represent their TV characters well, especially returning players Ryan Gowland and Katie Nahnsen as Fred and Daphne and Jacob Schneider as the Fonz. Writer-director Jason R. Chin wisely casts the humor net wider than simple sitcom lampoons and sexual exploits, adding a foppish narrator (Chris Berzac), some inside showbiz jokes, and plenty of whacks at the "I Like Ike" era, starting with the sassy decision to cast African-American Anthony LeBlanc as all-American Richie Cunningham (although more character mannerisms would move the joke beyond black guy in an Opie wig).

Still, after the first half hour the show melts into a sloppy, draggy mess, as if everyone got bored three weeks before it opened and decided not to bother polishing it. Costumes and wigs recycled from last year look rumpled, sound cues are late and too soft, actors break character and snicker, the second-act chase scene goes on way too long and is followed by a tacked-on happy ending, and the musical finale is obscured by poor lighting. And where, I ask, is Pinky Tuscadero? Chin and crew are easily capable of delivering a cleaner, sharper parody than they gave their opening-night audience.

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