The world premiere of The 101 Dalmatians Musical opened Tuesday October 13, 2009 at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis. This show is very family friendly and cute; one the kids will enjoy. The play was portrayed from the dogs’ point of view with the dogs owning their humans otherwise known as “dog’s best friend”. The actors who played humans performed on stilts to emphasize the height difference. Real Dalmatian dogs were used in part of the show but they only appeared on stage twice for short durations of time.
The adventure begins after Pongo (James Ludwig) and Missus Pongo (Catia Ojeda) have puppies. The pups are comically “puppyknapped” by Cruella De Vil’s (Rachel York) henchmen Jasper (Michael Thomas Holmes) and Jinx (Robert Anthony Jones). Pongo and Missus travel and rescue their pups as well as the other pups Cruella plans on slaughtering to make fur coats.
York had a brilliant performance. She brought the character of Cruella De Vil to life; she was the character you loved to hate. She had a lavish lifestyle with two manors, elegant clothes, a love of fur and diamonds that radiantly flashed during her dance numbers. Her ability to dance gracefully on stilts deserves praise as well. Robert Morgan (costume designer) created beautiful, sassy outfits for York that added to the character as well.
The music, written by Dennis DeYoung of Styx, ranged from pop to rock to even the reggae number “Be a Little Bit Braver”. There were some numbers that fit right in the production such as the gypsies’ song “Spot-On”. One of my favorite pieces was “One True Love” sung by Perdita (Julie Foldes) but the song and ballet number were not vital to the story.
On Tuesday night the world premiere of The 101 Dalmatians Musical made its debut at the Orpheum Theater. This was the first Minneapolis world premiere since the Lion King. The story is about a Dalmatian dog couple Pongo (James Ludwig) and Missus (Catia Ojeda) who is determined to find their ten puppies after they were dog napped by the evil Cruella De Vil (Rachel York).
The show begins in a park where all the dogs and their “pets” are playing. You soon get the idea that the dogs are the ones that take care of the humans. For instance they make sure their humans always get up on time by jumping on their beds and licking their faces, or making sure they take them for a walk twice a day.
In this fun family orientated musical, the viewer joins all the dogs and their “pets” on their big journey to rescue the puppies. The set design (Heidi Ettinger) gives the story a fun twist and you find yourself looking at everything from a dog’s perspective. From the Humans walking on stilts to the oversized furniture you realize you are truly in a dog’s world. The costume design (Robert Morgan) not only catches your eye but captures who the characters are and compliments them well.
The highlight of the evening though was the 15 most adorable Dalmatians you will ever see. They made sure to always hit their marks and to get a reward afterwards. You’re in for a real treat when you get to see all the dogs do tricks in the big finale.
The dogs weren’t the only ones to catch my attention. I was very amazed with Cruellla De Vil who was played by Rachel York. She brought sassiness and sizzle to her character and was personally my favorite of the night. The music in the show composed by Dennis DeYoung (former drummer for the rock band, Styx) along with co-lyricist B.T. McNicholl was creatively written and had the audience clapping along to the songs. The most popular song of the night was “Be a Little Bit braver” which was sung by all “puppies” that were played by adorable children.
Although the show was funny and kept me entertained its ending was abrupt and not well explained. There were some parts that didn’t make sense to the story, for example the narrator, Prince (Chuck Ragsdale). Even though he was played well, his character was confusing. Eventually you find out he is Perdita’s (The Dalmatian who watches over Pongo and Missus’ puppies, played by, Julie Foldesi) husband.
The show is going to be soon hitting Broadway and only time will tell if it will be a big hit. As far as I can tell it will do substantially well. It’s a show that parents can enjoy with their kids and have a night of fun and laughter.
The 101 Dalmatians Musical made its Twin Cities debut on Tuesday night at the Orpheum Theater. The musical was adapted from Dodie Smith’s 1956 book and was directed by Jerry Zaks. BMI Award-winning librettist and lyricist, B.T. McNicholl, wrote the script and co-composed the lyrics with Dennis DeYoung, lead singer and composer from the rock group Styx. The scenic designer, Heidi Ettinger, incorporated huge props and slanted backgrounds to make the dogs seem small compared to the humans.
The musical takes on the theme of dogs taking care of humans. The two Dalmatian dogs, Mr. and Mrs. Pongo, played by James Ludwig and Catia Ojeda, live at the Dearly house. When Mrs. Pongo finds out she is going to have pups, the whole family is ecstatic. These next few scenes are filled with what it means to be a parent and the values of a family. Mr. and Mrs. Pongo sing about their concerns and expectations of their pups in the song “A Perfect Family”. The evil in this musical is portrayed through a malevolent woman, Cruella De Vil, played by Rachel York. York captures the audience with her grand entrance in the song “Hot” and continues to wow the audience throughout the show. When Curella learns of the new pups, she discovers an idea for her new line of clothing. She captures the pups and plans to use their skins for her hats, gloves and coats. Curella’s plain is foiled when, Mr. and Mrs. Pongo save the day by rescuing their pups and bringing them home.
In the show, the actors portraying humans walk around on stilts to appear larger than the dogs. This concept seemed good in theory, but was poorly delivered by the cast. The movements were jerky in some scenes and the actors were clumsy. The chorography in the show was playful and lively, with a mix of pop and classical music. The pups danced around to their songs “Break Out” and “Be A Little Bit Braver”, which seemed a little repetitive. The performance also showed off fifteen real dogs at the end of the first act and the end of the show. The dogs were cute but were unnecessary for the actual performance. The actors showed passion for their characters, were humors and witty, and moved the audience with their theatrics. This action packed musical is one for the families and will be enjoyed by children of all ages.
She is mean, she is nasty, she is Cruella de Vil. The show 101 Dalmatians was based on the book by Dodie Smith and is about two dogs and their pups. When Cruella and her “helpers” steal the pups, the two dogs go on an adventure to find their kids. I thought the show was interesting but too long. Cruella de Vil, played by Rachel York, stole the show. I thought without her the show would have been less exciting. The play had some inappropriate jokes which drew me out of the show. This show also didn’t show the real dogs much, which took my attention away.
Rachel York was the perfect person for the role. She played her so well. Normally in a show, the villain is not the one who has my attention and the one I like. However, Cruella made the show. She played Cruella so perfectly and reminded me so much of the Cruella from the original movie.
The play also had some inappropriate jokes too I thought, such as the “shooting blanks” joke. This comment did make some people laugh. However, this show was originally a children show. “Shooting blanks” is not a joke for kids. Also, they made a comment about a little girl in the show. Cruella referred to her as “the fat one." I did not think that was appropriate to say. I thought the show had quite a few comments and jokes that were not appropriate for children.
Last, I wish they would have shown the real dogs more. I thought it was pointless to see the dogs once during the show and once at the end. I think they should have used just the humans. I enjoyed the end when we watched the dogs do all the tricks, but I did not see the point in doing it. I thought it was kind of confusing to use both, especially because we only saw them a couple of times. I also think they should have introduced the dogs more clearly. In the movie, we knew dogs by names from their unique personalities. In the show we just knew they were a bunch of pups.
In conclusion, I enjoyed the show but I would not recommend it strongly. I think there are a few certain people I may recommend it, but not many. The show was too long for little children and had inappropriate jokes. I also think they should have shown the dogs more, which would have interested the kids. However, I enjoyed Cruella de Vil and think she made the show. 101 Dalmatians was alright, I would recommend it, but I am not extremely disappointed.
101 Dalmatians is about two dalmatians (Pongo and Missus Pongo) who discover they are soon going to be parents. Meanwhile, Cruella de Vil is creating a plan to steal the puppies for her evil fashion designs. When she succeeds Pongo and Missus must travel all across England, from London to Castleton, to rescue them. To be honest, I thought it got a little boring and had a rather confusing plot that was lacking a solid story line.
In 101 Dalmatians the household furniture was very tall and the human characters were elevated by stilts to create the illusion that the story is being told by a dog’s point of view. I found these to be a clever ways to portray the dogs’ perspective.
The music in 101 Dalmatians is generally uplifting and catchy, but a few of the songs are a bit tedious, seemed to go on and on or are not really needed, didn't relate to the story line such as the “what’s my crime” song. It truly wasn’t necessary and seemed like it was there to stretch the length of the show. This got a bit tedious after ten minutes of singing that was, for the most part, irrelevant to the plot.
The show was extremely long (roughly two and a half hours). Due to its length, it is not the best choice to bring younger children, especially children ages five and under. The show 101 Dalmatians was to have real dalmatians in the performance, but it seemed like the dogs weren’t needed in the show at all. The dalmatians sadly, were shown only twice and for a very short period of time and while their performance near the end was neat, I still feel it wasn’t really essential to use real dalmatians and it really was a disappointment, especially for the younger kids who were eagerly waiting to see the dogs perform.
The highlight of this performance was the truly wonderfully evil Cruella De Vil played by Rachel York. She was simply spectacular. Rachel portrayed Cruella’s horribly wicked personality perfectly, while at the same time showing her elegance and beauty. Her voice was magnificent and her performance was show-stoppingly good. It kept my full attention during her solo musical performances, the particular song “hail to the chef” was catchy and fun. Rachel York’s voice was confident, pretty and simply perfect for the part of Cruella.
Overall I thought that it was rather disappointing. I was really hoping to see more of the dogs and while some of the songs were catchy, a lot of them were far too long and kind of boring. The show was aimed more for kids, around ages six to ten. But its length and its constant irrelevant songs may cause a bit of boredom for a seven or eight year old as well.
I saw the world premier of 101 Dalmatians and believe it was a great children’s play. The play had many catchy songs, life from a “puppies” view, and even live dogs! The story was about two dogs, Pongo and Mrs. Pongo having their puppies taken away from them, and is their journey to find them. There were a few things I found that negatively impacted the overall performance though. So although the play was good, it could be improved. Some of the main problems were the different levels of acting skills and repetitiveness of some parts.
The main thing I found amazing about this play was that all of the actors playing humans were on stilts the entire show, while the actors playing dogs were normal size, making it really feel like it is from a dog’s perspective. It gave the play real uniqueness and I loved that aspect. The (human) actors, although appearing a little mechanical at times, did very well for being on stilts.
What I found most negatively impacted the play was that Rachel York (Cruella De Vil) outshone nearly every other actor (with the live dogs in a close second). I feel the play would be much better if they got actors with near the same skill, I really believed Rachel’s character, whilst the others somewhat lacked. Something else I found negative was that some parts were a bit repetitive such as the “Be a Little Bit Braver” musical number.
Another thing I really liked about the play was how exciting it was, there were hardly any dull moments and any time something started to slow down, they started in on a song! I feel it would really keep any young children attentive because of the lack of down time. So if you are looking for a night out with the family, I recommend seeing this show!
Overall I enjoyed the play 101 Dalmatians, and would recommend any young theatre goers to see it. It is lighthearted and even puts the death of Cruella in a cheery front! So take the kids and go see the new play 101 Dalmatians!
Silhouetted is a Dalmatian circling in his doghouse to an actor’s voice over about getting ready. Suddenly, spotted curtains close and out strides our narrator, Prince, wearing a black spotted white suit. This is an attention gaining opening to a not so attention getting show. Most know the story of a Dalmatian family who loses their puppies, finds the puppies and returns with 95 more to escape the clutches of Cruella DeVil. 101 Dalmatians as a whole could have been written better, more of an equal cast and blocked differently.
Despite mostly good acting jobs, the show wasn’t very well written. Being a family centered show there were plenty of children there as well as adults. It seemed that there were jokes for the kids to get, yet jokes kind of randomly thrown in to keep the adults awake. A portion of the humor did not seem suitable for children. For instance, the “What’s My Crime” song, sung by DeVil’s henchmen, talks about wanting to go to jail. Some parents may not find that appropriate for their young ones to hear. There were also jokes irrelevant to the scenes mostly in the second act. This just drew away attention. The show could have been at least three-quarters of its 160 minutes if that humor was taken out. In the song “Be A Little Bit Braver” there was a Bob Marley impersonation played by a caucasian actor with fake dreadlocks. He also had an over played accent, which made his portrayal seem like a racial slur.
Cruella DeVil, played by Rachel York, was the show stealer. No one will be able to forget the towering, black and white haired, fur-wearing villain. The children who played the pups were also quite talented. However, the adult Dalmatians and humans did not have the same shine. The grown-up characters did not seem to stick with the audience members. That point was made with almost no chatter from the audience in scenes that involved York or any of the Dalmatian family. A plus side to having all the young actors was that it gave the children something to look up to and think that kids are actually capable of achieving great things.
The set and costuming of the musical was well thought out. With the show being from a dog’s perspective, the sets were angled and the costumes were a bit more exaggerated. The actors playing humans were also on stilts that had bigger feet. Some of the humans were not well balanced on the stilts. Rachel York, on the other hand, was very well balanced in that you did not know she was wearing the stilts to begin with. For most of the sets you could tell where they were, but what was being portrayed was slightly confusing. In example, during the birthing scene Missus was supposedly in a closet. But, the door she went behind was the door people were using to go into the yard, so that was somewhat misleading. In addition to these, the blocking was misguiding. In one scene there was an important part with Pongo and Missus talking to DeVil’s cat. Although, the way the scene was blocked was that most of the attention was on York and not what was happening with the animals.
101 Dalmatians could have been differently blocked, equally cast and written better suited for the audience. Those would have made the show more understandable and enjoyable. It seemed as though the writers did not know their audience.
If you were driving down Hennepin Avenue last month, you may have heard an interesting sound – the barking of dogs. Rachel York is top dog amongst a clan of canines in The 101 Dalmatians Musical. York stars as Cruella De Vil, a wicked woman with her heart set on a Dalmatian-pattern fur coat. Cruella, along with her henchmen the Baddun Brothers, set out to kidnap the Dalmatian pups belonging to new parents Pongo and Missus Pongo and their “pets” the Dearlys. With its many upbeat songs and excessive but likeable characters, the show proves to be cute, but ultimately much longer than necessary.
The musical numbers, all written by former Styx member Dennis DeYoung, are enjoyable and entertaining, but were, for the most part, not memorable at the end of the show. But a few highlights include the reggae-styled, “Be a Little Bit Braver”, and “Hot”, Cruella’s first solo. It was evident that York’s participation in the production was being taken advantage of, as she was given several solo songs, none of which seemed fully necessary or essential to the story. This was also the case for other songs as well, many of which seemed to be included only to lengthen the show or to fill an empty space in the script.
Although the actors were all talented, many of their roles were nowhere near required, and most of them were given unneeded spotlights, which only added to the length of the show. Perdita for example, played by the lovely Julie Foldesi, had a beautiful ballad “Perdita’s Prince”, which was enjoyable, but her entire side-story seemed distracting and overall unrelated to the main plot. The use of real Dalmatians was sparse and seemed to be a part of the show only to provide extra entertainment for the audience. Their performance was completely separate from the actual show, though it may have been one of the best highlights.
Visually, however, the performance was more than impressive. All actors playing humans performed on stilts to give the illusion that you are viewing their world from the dogs’ perspective. It seemed like quite the feat to be able to dance and move around that way, but all of the actors made it seem so natural that by the middle of the production, it was no longer noticeable. In addition to the stilts, all of the furniture was larger than average to fit the modified heights and to make the dog characters seem smaller. The animals’ costumes were also very plain in contrast to the human ones. The backdrops and large set pieces were also painted in a unique way. As in the case of the famous painting, Summer in the Park with George, the painting on the set was done in circular style, creating the image of spots nearly everywhere on the stage. It was a very impressive sight indeed.
As a whole, the show was brimming with talent of all ages, and music that any audience could enjoy. However, the length of the show may be difficult for small children to handle, though they would likely enjoy seeing the live animals even more than the adults. Although the show is directed towards children, there are a few sexual innuendos and adult jokes thrown in, most likely to keep the attention of older audiences. Despite the forced humor, the show was entertaining. Two paws up.