Pokémon Live! (partially found professional recording footage of musical; 2000-2001)
Pokémon Live! was a live-action musical based on Nintendo's popular Pokémon franchise. Touring the United States from September 2000 to January 2001, the show was approximately 90 minutes long and was produced by Radio City Entertainment, 4Kids, and Nintendo. A professionally-recorded version of the musical, was shot at one of the Chicago shows and was planned for airing TV and a release on home video. However, these plans fell through, and no full recordings of the U.S. show have surfaced, outside of bootlegs.
Plot and Production
The play begins with Ash, Misty, and Brock setting out for a Pokémon Gym, in response to a challenge from a mysterious Gym Leader. The challenge stipulates that anyone who can defeat the Gym Leader's Pokémon in a battle will win a special "diamond badge". Afterwards, it is revealed that the challenge was set up by Team Rocket leader Giovanni, who has created a powerful Pokémon named MechaMew2, and intends to use it for world domination.
The musical used live-action actors for both characters and Pokémon, albeit with some exceptions for string-controlled characters. A DVD release was alluded to in promotional material, such as a page on the Pokémon website from the time, but was presumably abandoned around the same time the show's planned UK tour had to be cancelled due to "unforeseen circumstances".
Search for the American Show
After the show ended in 2001, it was largely forgotten by the general public. However, interest in Pokémon Live! was revived in April of 2016, when popular YouTuber Chadtronic created a video on the topic entitled "The Mystery Of Pokémon Live!". The video contained comments from the musical's production stage manager, Chris Mitchell, who had previously uploaded a bootleg recording of the Chicago show in a series of 7 parts. Mitchell cited lack of interest and monetary concerns as the reason for the show's failure, claiming that "[the] Pokémon craze was not as big in 2000 as it was in 1999."
He also confirmed that a high-definition multi-camera version was shot but never released for unknown reasons and that it was currently lost in the archives of the respective rights holders. Reportedly, Mitchell himself has repeatedly tried to obtain a copy of the professional recording but has been unsuccessful. Chadtronic ended the video by starting the hashtag #FindPokemonLive and encouraging anyone with information to contact him.
The search did bring forth some new information, such as a promotional video in which Brock's actor mentions the DVD release, as well as the script for the musical. However, it was ultimately unsuccessful in its goal of finding the professional recording, and interest died back down after a few months.
While the U.S. show remains elusive, in October of 2016, a professional recording of Pokémon Live actually did surface - albeit, from the Dubai performance of the show. The video was uploaded by MiG Ayesa, the actor of Ash for this particular performance, and was uploaded to YouTube as a response to the popularity of the Pokémon GO app.
The performance appears to be significantly different from the American production, with lower production values and a shorter run time of 50 minutes. In addition, multiple music numbers and even entire characters have been removed, such as Professor Oak, and Delia (Ash's mother). Still, the video gives a decent representation of what the U.S. recording may have looked like and provides new hope that it may surface some time in the near future.
It seems like these Dubai performances resulted from a mix of people and companies from different countries. The cast, director, and producer were completely Australian. The wardrobe came from the U.S.A. The sound effects and music were also aided by a British sound company.
The musical, now dubbed as Pokémon El Espectáculo En Vivo (or Pokémon The Live Show) was preformed for one day only on May 27, 2001 at the "Auditorio Nacional" (or National Auditorium) in Mexico City. It aired on Canal 9 on August 17, 2001 with a runtime of 2 hours. Unfortunately, all recordings of this televised event are non-existent.
Following the Mexican show was a final tour in Lisbon, Portugal. The show, now dubbed as Pokémon Ao Vivo went on from March 21 to March 27, 2002 at the Pavilhão Atlântico. A 6-minute clip of the Portuguese version, showing parts of You and Me and Pokémon has been uncovered March 3rd. The clip was originally uploaded by a YouTube user, craenerX (aka Cláudio Vasconcelos) but has since been deleted.
cranerX's Deleted Pokémon Live! Videos
There are more clips of Pokémon Live!, which he deleted, for unknown reasons.
Here is the list of the videos deleted by craenerX (not complete)
- Pokémon Live! - You and Me and Pokemon (V.2)
- Pokémon Live! - Introducao ao Team Rocket
- Pokémon Live! - Ash, Misty e Brock na Floresta
- Pokémon Live! - Discurso de Giovanni e primeira cena
- Pokémon Live! - It will all be mine
The video, Pokémon Live! - Ash, Misty e Brock na Floresta was uploaded on Jun 14, 2008, with a run time of 1 min 28 sec. Here is the found description of the video:
"Sorry, but this video is in portuguese Neste clip, os nossos amigos estão a caminho do ginásio de Giovanni, e como sempre, vão por uma floresta. Nota: Este vídeo está muito imcompleto, pois apenas possui +/- 10 segundos. Atenção: Provavelmente este será o último clip que eu vou postar. Por enquanto..."
- Wikipedia page for Pokémon Live! Retrieved 31 Dec '16
- Archive of the official Pokémon website mentioning a home video release Retrieved 31 Dec '16 | Archived 19 Oct '01
- News article on the UK tour's cancellation Retrieved 31 Dec '16 | Archived 04 Jan '03
- Chadtronic's The Mystery Of Pokémon Live!", containing many comments from Chris Mitchell Retrieved 31 Dec '16
- A behind-the-scenes video where the DVD release is mentioned. Retrieved 31 Dec '16
- Script for the musical Retrieved 31 Dec '16
- Tweet from Auditorio Nacional Retrieved 25 Dec '18
- Pokémex article on Pokémon Live! in Mexico Retrieved 16 Mar '18
- "El Informador" Newspaper TV listing Retrieved 03 Jul '18
- Portuguese commercial of Pokémon Ao Vivo Retrieved 29 Dec '17.