101 Dalmatians: A Light-Hearted, Family-Friendly Musical (A guest review by Amanda Blake)


If you are looking for a family friendly new show, The 101 Dalmatians Musical may be the show for you.

101 Dalmatians, which had its world premiere at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, MN on October 13th, takes Dodie Smith’s 1956 novel from the page to the stage.

This new adaptation of Dalmatians is from the dog’s point of view. Humans are seen as pets, not owners. The dogs walk on two feet, not four. And the actors playing humans are on well-disguised stilts, which cause problems throughout the show (some of the actors walked around clumsily and there were a few who actually fell).

The Dalmatians, led by Pongo (James Ludwig) and Missus (Catia Ojeda), are the primary heroes of the story. Pongo and Missus suffer the agony of Missus’ pregnancy, then enjoy family life until their pups are stolen by Cruella De Vil (Rachel York).

Usually you wouldn’t root for a villainess who plans to murder and skin dozens of puppies for her fall fashion line, but when you see how much fun Rachel York is having in the role of De Vil, you come close. York steals the show with her loud screeching entrances, very glamorous and outrageous costumes and fun numbers.

The show also features 15 furry cast members who carry two scenes during the show, one at the end of each act. The Dalmatians add a much-needed boost to the show by performing “tricks.”

Beyond that, there really isn’t really much of anything that makes the audience go “wow.”

Former Styx member, Dennis DeYoung, wrote the music for the show and was co-lyricist with B.T. McNicholl. Dalmatians has some fun numbers and a few heartfelt ballads, but the music, though light and nice, leaves you with the feeling that you’ve heard all of it before.

When you see Dalmatians, you can leave the theatre with a light-hearted feeling – knowing that the good guys won and the bad guys got punished.

Amanda Blake is an avid theatre-goer and self-proclaimed “theatre dork” who regularly sees touring productions in Chicago, IL and Minneapolis, MN. Follow her on Twitter @th3heights.

Interested in guest reviewing a Broadway musical for the blog? Shoot me an email. I’m looking to assemble a great group of reviewers.

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