Saturday, June 24, 2017 This Week's Paper

Pow. Thwack. Zoink… Repeat

// Captain Adventure thwarts Dr. Do-Nothing's evil plans in new zoo show

Wonder Dog might need a refresher course of following the script, but children do not seem to care. A dog wearing a cape that flies over the stage wins over their affections every time.

Comic book heroes jump from the page to the stage at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s latest show, “Captain Adventure vs. Dr. Do-Nothing: The Quest to Get Outside!” The fast-paced production has all the makings of must-see kiddo show, namely a super heroine, a super dog, a dastardly villain with a maniacal laugh and more than a dozen furry, feathered or feisty animals... and capes, lots of capes.

The story unfolds as the mad scientist Dr. Do-Nothing sets out to make sure that children become couch potatoes by doing nothing but watch television all day, every day. His theme song, after all, is “Staying Inside” set to the Bee Gees disco tune “Staying Alive.”

Stepping in to thwart those plans are Maureen, a field biologist, and Captain Adventure, who find clues hidden in habitats around the world. Each rain forest, desert and rocky hillside brings one more clue and one more animal to the stage. The show includes appearances by a Canada lynx, a tortoise, a bald eagle, a sloth, an iguana, a barn owl, a rope-climbing parrot and an aardvark. But while the animal parade causes children to oooh and aaaah, Harold steals the show. The mild-mannered beagle adopted from the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County is a super dog in disguise that swoops in to save the day. And yes, he swoops. An overhead pulley system sends him and his dog house over the audience in a stunt made famous by Snoopy during his battle with the Red Baron during the Peanuts comic strip from days gone by. Toss in a soaring vulture and a barn owl and audiences are quick to see that just as much action happens overhead as on stage. There will never be a shortage of waving hands when Captain Adventure calls for volunteers from the audience, either.

Animals, capes and action: the show’s many “wow moments” creates a vortex of cuteness. It also brings home a message.

“These guys wrote the script themselves,” Point Defiance Zoo spokeswoman Kris Sherman said. “The whole idea of the show is to get people outside and involved.”

Zoo staff spent months drafting, writing and rehearsing the script to entertain but also support the idea that people should spend more time outside and that they can help the environment by making bird houses and monitoring nature.

“Captain Adventure shares the wonderful experiences that families can have discovering nature and the role they can play in helping to share their findings with scientists,” said John Garner, conservation and education manager. “Amateur naturalists are becoming increasingly important in helping biologists understand more about our plant and animal communities.”

The Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater program runs at noon on weekdays and at noon and 3:30 p.m. on weekends. The new show will run for two years or so, when it will then be replaced with another adventure.