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Kevin Dennis looks back at creating lead character for hit cartoon series 'Busytown Mysteries'
Kevin Dennis is known for his versatility as an actor. There is no medium where he does not excel, from the stage in productions such as Floyd Collins in the world-renowned Shaw Festival, to film and television, including the Emmy-Award winning series Orphan Black and J.J. Abram's Hulu original 11.22.63. He knows how to captivate in front of a camera, but also behind a microphone in a studio. As one of Canada's leading voice actors, he uses just his voice to create characters and transport audiences all over the world.

Dennis first found his love for voice acting as a teenager. At the time, he constantly made up funny voices using accents, different languages and silly sounds. He would inflict these voices on his classmates and teachers, simply looking to entertain his peers. However, he soon realized that he could use this innate talent with his dream of being an actor and set out to add voice acting to his list of skills. Now, he has over one hundred voice credits to his name.

"People think it's easy work; standing in front of a microphone and saying a few lines. It is far from that. For animation, voice-acting is a full-body experience. My mentor gave me a piece of wisdom I still employ to this day: if you're not sweating, or out of breath by the end of an animation audition, then you're not working hard enough. I love being in the recording booth," said Dennis.

Millions of children around Canada and the world have been enchanted by Dennis' voice work in the hit cartoon series Busytown Mysteries. Also known as Hurray for Huckle!Busytown Mysteries is a children's' show based on the classic works of author and illustrator Richard Scarry that centers on six characters solving the mysteries of everyday life in an imaginary place called Busytown.

"The show challenged young kids to utilize their problem-solving skills and to participate in the songs of the show. Parents loved it because it had plenty of 70's and 80's throwback stingers and sound effects, plus the characters were read to many of them when they were youngsters. The show was successful because it was educational as well as entertaining fare for the kiddies," said Dennis.

Busytown Mysteries was extremely successful with its intended audience of 3-6 year-olds. The show initially aired on CBC from 2007-2010 and had 102 episodes. Reruns still play on CBC and in the United States on Starz. It also was released on a DVD set in Canada and the United Kingdom, where it was a large success. It also was nominated for two Gemini Awards for Best Writing in a Children's or Youth Program or Series. Such success could never have been possible without the strong voice work of Dennis and his surrounding cast members.

"Being fortunate to have over one hundred episodes on a series is a feat achieved by very few actors in their careers. This show put me on the map as a household name and opened up incalculable numbers of doors to subsequent projects. It gave me the discipline, confidence and experience to succeed and it fuels me still to this day. I like the fact that you can find my work immortalized online with a few easy clicks on Google, Netflix or YouTube," said Dennis.

In the show, Dennis voiced Goldbug, the action news bug-reporter in Busytown who always pops up when there's a mystery presented. He takes control of the scene in his ol' timey way, reporting on anything from "Missing Cars" to "Lost Parrot" mysteries. He is the leading character in the series, and Dennis wanted to make him stand out. He therefore listened to a lot of older horse-race announcers to try and duplicate the cadence and style of speech. 

"The cool thing about creating a leading character is that sometimes you get to develop catch phrases that are used in every episode. The producers loved my ol' timey vibe, so they had me create a few for each episode," said Dennis.

Goldbug would always introduce the "Who? What? Where? Why?" song in the middle of each episode, which the kids loved and sang along to in their homes. Goldbug would exclaim, "Ready for it? Here gooooo-es!!" before the song would play. Dennis would also end each segment with the catchphrase "I'm Goldbug, and that's the buzz in Busytown," much to the delight of children who had tuned in.

"I loved every minute of working on Busytown Mysteries. My recording sessions became so consistent and strong, that very often the producers would be satisfied with my first takes; meaning they would make me do a second for posterity, but really, the role was so in the pocket that I was becoming known as a one-take wunderkind. This trust that was given allowed me to try my hand at other leads and secondary characters on the series, making me the highest credited actor on the series," he concluded. "And one of the coolest things ever is having a plush toy made out of your character. There are Goldbugs all over the world now!"

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