On Nov. 3 and 4, The Dickinson Community Players (DCP) put on the show “The Solve It Squad” in the Chenango Champlain Collegiate Center Multipurpose Room. “The Solve It Squad” is a dark comedy and “Scooby-Doo” parody created by the Tin Can Bros, featuring music written by Nick Gage.
Back in their youth, “The Solve It Squad” was a gang of renowned kid detectives, all united by the talking dog, Cluebert. However, a mystery gone wrong left Cluebert murdered and dismembered by the Demonic Apostle whose identity was never uncovered, and the traumatized group of kids went their separate ways. Now, 20 years later, the Demonic Apostle is back, and the gang has to reunite one more time to find Cluebert’s killer.
Despite its dark premise, “The Solve It Squad” is full of humor. Since their childhood, the members of the gang have changed. Scrags has left his sandwich-loving days behind to become an FBI agent. Esther has gone off-grid and turned to drugs and alcohol to contain her genius intellect. Gwen used her status as a star child detective to become an actress and influencer, while Keith was never able to let go of his childhood glory and now sells “The Solve It Squad” merch out of his van. This disparate cast of characters come together in a way that is both hilarious and chaotic.
For the director Todd Sweeney, a senior double-majoring in English and psychology, “The Solve-It Squad” was the perfect play to put on for the DCP.
“I think this play is especially good for this kind of season,” Sweeney said. “It’s all meant to be fun and silly while still having those ghostly little vibes.”
Kedra Fowler, the actress who plays Esther and a senior double-majoring in Africana studies and English, had nothing but good things to say about her fellow castmates.
“It’s amazing to be in the presence of such great actors,” Fowler said.
For this play, the cast had their comedic prowess on full display. The comedic timing of Paul Ciesluk, a senior majoring in environmental studies, with his character Keith was particularly standout. Throughout the play, Ciesluk’s performance had the audience laughing along.
A surprising highlight of the show came from Ellen Davis, a junior double-majoring in history and anthropology, who played the role of Everyone Else. Davis was tasked with playing all of the villains from the show’s introductory song (including Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger), all of the staff at the haunted hotel where the mystery took place and, well, everyone else. Every single one of her characters were unique, with their own personality, voice and mannerisms.
Davis remarked on playing so many different characters, particularly ones that are meant to be onstage together having a conversation.
“It’s super, super fun,” Davis said. “There’s a switch-on when you’re an actor, when you’re onstage and offstage. But I get to do that onstage as well, so that’s a really interesting way of acting and doing a show.”
Another standout of the play was the chase scene near the end of the play. The chase, which mimicked the iconic “Scooby-Doo” chase where the gang and villain of the day run through various doors and passageways, was a big challenge for Sweeney. Not only was the creation of the choreography and cues for the scene difficult, but Sweeney didn’t even know if the choreography would fit the stage properly.
“We didn’t have the actual [Multipurpose Room] to practice until tech week,” Sweeney said. “[I] had to hope that that wide of a stage would be able to accommodate.”
Despite the challenge, the chase scene was a success. The eerie lighting, fun choreography and hilarious performances by the cast really sold the scene and made it memorable to the audience.
The DCP’s production of “The Solve It Squad” is a show that revels in its ridiculousness. From cult worship to Etsy shops, “The Solve It Squad” gang garnered laughs at every turn. And, of course, it’s made even better by the fact that the DCP decided to honor Cluebert’s life and death with a portion of their proceeds being donated to The Broome County Humane Society.