You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The 101 Dalmatians Musical

To its credit, "The 101 Dalmatians Musical" is a polished, highly professional affair for kids -- it's directed, after all, by Jerry Zaks, and sponsored by Purina.

Prince - Chuck Ragsdale Pongo - James Ludwig Missus - Catia Ojeda Cruella De Vil - Sara Gettelfinger Mr. Dearly Mike Masters Mrs. Dearly, Tabby Cat - Erin Mosher Mr. Manly - Brian Cochrane

To its credit, “The 101 Dalmatians Musical” is a polished, highly professional affair for kids — it’s directed, after all, by Jerry Zaks, and sponsored by Purina. But it does seem that a big touring show — even one targeted to a demographic for whom a 7:30 p.m. curtain is likely past their bedtime — could possess some bark or bite or personality. Don’t the little ‘uns deserve something with a more vivid imagination than talented but nondescript actors playing Dalmatians in spotted white clothes that call to mind a laundry detergent commercial?

To compare the show within its proper breed, a tyke-targeted stage version of a well-known screen title, this one exists somewhere in the vast expanse between the fully dull “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” or “Dr. Dolittle” and the comparatively buoyant “High School Musical.” Like “HSM,” its greatest long-term legacy may be school or community productions, which should be able to handle the costume challenge.

Harder to replicate will be the actual dogs who appear in this show, whose choreographed antics at the end of each act are significantly more impressive than the human calisthenics suggesting dance movement.

The show most certainly was not created to please critics, but its restraint makes it mostly painless, despite feeling like a collection of missed opportunities for clever stage interpretations of the life of dogs.

Once in a while, there’s a nod to the adults in the audience amid the adulation of parental life. For example, the butler and cook are both women, and there’s an unsubtle suggestion of lesbianism. Much more subtle — in fact, the creators may not even fully be in on the joke — is a puppy child asking her doggie parents about the birds and the bees with the line: “Daddy, what happens in the bushes?”

The performances are likable enough. Sara Gettelfinger — who recently replaced Rachel York — is properly campy as Cruella De Vil, the canine kidnapper who plans to turn the title pups into furs. After the real dogs, she’s definitely the most entertaining element, much moreso than the Gypsy characters — the show is based on Dodie Smith’s original book rather than the Disney movie — who could have been cut to shorten the running time.

And, to find another distinct positive, one of the mostly sound-alike songs in former Styx founder Dennis DeYoung’s score — “Be a Little Bit Braver” — has a decidedly catchy reggae beat.

Like the other human characters, Cruella stands on stilts to make the canines seem in proper perspective. And the painted backdrops at odd angles further the concept of presenting the world from the dogs’ eye view. It’s a great idea. But even here, there’s a dearth of imagination. If this really is what a dog’s world is like, then no wonder they sleep so much.

The 101 Dalmatians Musical

Cadillac Palace Theater, Chicago; 2,200 seats; $85 top

Production: A Broadway in Chicago, Magic Arts & Entertainment/Tix Corp., Troika Entertainment, Luis Alvarez, Jon B. Platt presentation, in as sociation with Allen Spivak and Brad Krassner, of a musical in two acts with music by Dennis DeYoung, lyrics by DeYoung and BT McNicholl, book by McNicholl, based on the book by Dodie Smith. Directed by Jerry Zaks. Musical direction, Don York. Choreography, Warren Carlyle.

Creative: Sets, Heidi Ettinger; costumes, Robert Morgan; lighting, Paul Gallo; sound, Peter Hylenski; orchestrations, Danny Troob; dance music, Mark Hummel; music coordinator, Sam Luftiyya, Music Services Intl.; vocal and music arrangements, Nadia DiGiallonardo; additional arrangements, York; dog training coordinator, Joel Slaven; associate director, Steve Bebout; production stage manager, John M. Atherlay. Opened, reviewed Feb. 17, 2010. Runs through Feb. 28. Running time: 2 HOURS, 10 MIN .

Cast: Prince - Chuck Ragsdale Pongo - James Ludwig Missus - Catia Ojeda Cruella De Vil - Sara Gettelfinger Mr. Dearly Mike Masters Mrs. Dearly, Tabby Cat - Erin Mosher Mr. Manly - Brian CochraneWith: Erin Maguire, Madeleine Doherty, Michael Thomas Holmes, Robert Anthony Jones, Emma Zaks, Sammy Borla, Catherine Missal, Lydia Rose Clemente, Piper Curda, Kristy Cavanaugh, Lakisha Anne Bowen, Chip Abbott, Joel Blum, Joseph Dellger, Garrett Hawe, Gwen Hollander, Kevin C. Loomis, Ah-Niyah Yonay Neal, Clark Kelley Oliver, Kendra Tate, Austin Zambito-Valente. Musical numbers: "Overture -- Koncerto # K-9," "Man is a Dog's Best Friend," "A Perfect Family," "Hot Like Me," "There's Always Room for One More," "World's Greatest Dad," "One True Love," "Hail to the Chief," "Twilight Barking," "Be a Little Bit Braver," "Break Out," "Having the Crime of Our Lives," "A Perfect Family" (reprise), "Spot-On," "Be a Little Bit Braver" (reprise), "My Sweet Child," "Cruella Always Gets Her Way," "Hot Like Me" (reprise), "101 Dalmatians."

More Legit

  • Clueless review

    Off Broadway Review: 'Clueless' the Musical

    How does a musical stage adaptation of Amy Heckerling’s 1995 film comedy of oblivious privileged teens, “Clueless,” play in the era of female empowerment and millennial engagement? True, the principal skills of lead teen Cher Horowitz are the superficial ones of mall shopping and makeovers. But her sweet spirit and independence, plus some added P.C. relevance, [...]

  • Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary,

    Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary, 'Hugo Cabret' Musical

    Producers Tim Headington and Theresa Steele Page have unveiled Ley Line Entertainment with a Brian Wilson documentary and a “Hugo Cabret” musical in the works. Ley Line said it’s a content development, production, and financing company with projects spanning film, television, stage, and music. Headington financed and produced “The Young Victoria,” “Argo,” “Hugo,” and “World [...]

  • Daniel Radcliffe

    Listen: How Broadway Made Daniel Radcliffe a Better Actor

    Acting onstage has been a regular part of Daniel Radcliffe’s career for more than a decade — and the “Harry Potter” star says there’s a good reason for that: It’s made him better. “It gives me a lot of confidence as an actor, which is not always something that I’ve felt,” Radcliffe said on the [...]

  • The Jungle review

    Off Broadway Review: 'The Jungle'

    With the rumbling of semis careening by and the sound of Middle Eastern music in the distance, “The Jungle” aims to vividly immerse audiences into the world of the real-life migrant and refugee camp of the same name. By telling the story of the Jungle’s creation in Calais, France, in 2015, and its eventual destruction [...]

  • Hillary Clinton'Network' play opening night, New

    Hillary Clinton Attends Opening of Broadway's 'Network'

    A 1976 film might not be expected to translate seamlessly to Broadway in 2018, but for the cast and creative team behind “Network,” which premiered Thursday night with Hillary Clinton in the audience, the story still feels uncomfortably close to home. “It was a satire then, and now it’s documentary realism,” said Lee Hall, who [...]

  • 'Network' Review: Bryan Cranston Stars on

    Broadway Review: 'Network' With Bryan Cranston

    The 1976 film “Network” won four Academy Awards, including best original screenplay for writer Paddy Chayefsky, for its blistering portrayal of an American society fueled by greed and bloated on corruption. A haggard Peter Finch took the best actor trophy for his harrowing performance as Howard Beale, a TV newsman who is so disgusted by [...]

  • Faye DunawayVanity Fair Oscar Party, Arrivals,

    Faye Dunaway to Play Katharine Hepburn on Broadway

    Faye Dunaway will return to Broadway to play another acting diva. The Oscar-winner is set to portray Katharine Hepburn in “Tea at Five,” a one-woman play that charts the movie legend’s career over the course of a winding monologue. Dunaway last appeared on Broadway in 1982’s “The Curse of the Aching Heart.” In the 1990s, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content