‘101 Dalmatians,’ now playing at the outdoor Regent’s Park theatre, is a family fun feel good show. It’s cleverly done, and is played in a venue that is perfect for this time of year.
‘101 Dalmatians’ is one of the most enduring and well loved stories known for generations, having previously been both an animated and live action film, many books and an animated television series. Now it’s on the stage, with music and lyrics by Douglas Hodge, Book by Johnny McKnight, in a stage adaptation by Zinnie Harris with superb puppetry (of the dogs) led by Toby Olie that makes this show endearing from start to finish.
Couple Dominic (Eric Stroud) and Danielle (Karen Fishwick) have two very large Dalmatians. But when the female gives birth out pops, yes, you guessed it, 101 Dalmatians. But it’s the cruel Cruella De Vil (Karen Fleetwood) who wants the fur from the puppies to make a coat for herself for the prestigous black & white ball she has been invited to. Cruella sends her minions to steal the puppies and puts them in an electrified cage, while the adult Dalmatians, and Dominic and Danielle, pine and search for them and, well, you probably know how this story winds up.
Like ‘Life of Pi,’ where the animals appear to come to life via the work of the puppeteers, it’s the same in ‘101 Dalmatians’ as the dogs scamper around the stage with the help of their human helpers. The staging is absolutely brilliant, and the music is as catchy as one would expect (‘Dogtra’ is a fun number involving all the dogs and other assorted animals).
And as day turns into night, and the air gets a bit chilly, the show will give you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. And with Regents Park Theatre celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, you owe it to yourself, and your young ones, a night out with the puppies of ‘101 Dalmatians.’
Photos by Mark Senior