Ontario native Frank Meschkuleit is finding success as a puppeteer and voice actor after years of working unsatisfying jobs.

Puppeteer voices his way to success

Popular children's show Toopy and Binoo arrives at the Port Theatre tomorrow as a live stage production.

If you’re a parent of young children then there is a good chance you’ve seen some of Frank Meschkuleit’s work, or at the very least, heard his voice.

That’s because for almost a decade, the puppeteer and voice actor has been the voice behind Toopy, a vivacious mouse on one of the most popular children’s television programs, Toopy and Binoo.

“Toopy is a character who is so optimistic and so ready to follow his imagination wherever that takes him and his buddy Binoo,” Meschkuleit said.

On Wednesday (Oct. 15), Meschkuleit’s voice will echo inside the Port Theatre, when the popular television show comes to life as a theatrical production called Toopy and Binoo: Fun and Games.

Although the production features live actors, Meschkuleit’s voice was pre-recorded in order to maintain consistency.

“This is a great chance for parents to take their kids to a theatre where they’re going to have fun,” Meschkuleit said about Toopy and Binoo: Fun and Games. “This is the perfect place to take them because they can run and yell and scream and point.”

Toopy and Binoo first aired in 2005 and is based on Canadian author Dominique Jolin’s best-selling books of the same name. The show is centred around the adventures of Toopy and his friend Binoo, who is a small cat.

Since airing, Toopy and Binoo has morphed into an extremely successfully Canadian-produced children’s program, having aired in countries around the world and has had various theatrical spinoffs.

“Kids seem to love it,” Meschkuleit said. “I think it is a combination of the beautiful artwork and the great colour palette and just the unending optimism and friendship and whimsy of the two characters.”

Meschkuleit’s journey into voice acting and puppeteering began nearly three decades ago after he auditioned for a role as a muppet in the 1985 film Sesame Street Presents: Follow that Bird.

“To watch adult men and women play for a living was such a moment of awakening for me,” said Meschkuleit, who was once a salesperson for Sears. “The jobs I’d held till that point …  didn’t give much back. You left the day feeling a little metal taste in your mouth.”

Although Meschkuleit is best known for voicing Toopy, the Mississauga, Ont., resident has been a puppeteer in a number of films such as Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Max Payne, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem and Scary Movie 3. He said that voicing Toopy has provided him with a great amount of satisfaction.

“Toopy has been a great ride for me,” he said. “I think as a freelancer you can never say you’re sorry about a show that has run for 10 years that involves you. That is a terrific honour and a privilege to be a part of.”

Toopy and Binoo: Fun and Games will take place at the Port Theatre on Wednesday (Oct. 15) at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $30.50 and $28.50. For more information, please visit www.porttheatre.com. For more information on Frank Meschkuleit, please visit www.puppetsandvoices.com and for more information on Toopy and Binoo please visit www.toopyandbinooontour.com.

arts@nanaimobulletin.comTwitter: @npescod




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