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"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Thursday, July 21, 2022

101 Dalmatians @OpenAirTheatre "it gives me great pleasure to write... a great piece of new British musical theatre! A joy. Utter Dalmatian"... #DouglasHodge @KateFleetwood @TobyOlie #101Dalmatians Review ->

Last night Roger and I went to see new musical 101 Dalmatians at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre in London's glitzy Regents Park.
And as if to over-egg the puppy packed park-based pudding still further, the action is itself set in Regents Park.
First off, let me say it was a great show. In fact, a great piece of new British musical theatre. And it gives me great pleasure to write those words. It's not playing to the tourist crowd per se; the songs and the jokes are very British; the set-up, manners and politeness are all delightfully British; and Cruella De Vil is played to the max in a devilishly evil Essex accent.
And let's face it, it's Kate Fleetwood's fabulous Cruella De Vil we have come to see. The show wasn't quite the same whenever she was absent from the stage!
That said, Timothy Sheader's whole direction and Colin Richmond's set design is very clever and never nothing but diverting. 101 dogs do appear - not only dalmatians - all inventively magicked up as a variety of puppets - some with solo performers, some with two. Full marks to puppetry design and direction by Toby OliƩ.
The songs were fab too. Some gloriously topical - the song about turning criminal was laugh out loud funny. Round of applause to Douglas Hodge for the music and lyrics, the book by Johnny McKnight from a stage adaptation by Zinnie Harris. 
Yes, the show was not without its small faults - but these were mainly technical as the show is still in previews. The sound balance isn't quite right so we can't quite catch all the plainly witty lyrics and some of the dance scenes look rather crowded.  But these are only very minor quibbles.
Congratulations especially to Pongo (head Ben Thompson, voice Danny Collins) and Perdi (head Yana Penrose, voice Emma Lucia) and all the rest of the cast. 
And last but not least, for it is a musical after all, big ups to Tarek Merchant as Musical Director, and to Sarah Travis as Musical Supervisor and Orchestrator.
A joy.

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