IBJOpinion

LOU'S VIEWS: Dog days at Clowes with national tour of 'Dalmatians' musical

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Lou Harry

This week, canines at Clowes, sisters in the suburbs, pals searching for Paul, and the Cabaret’s new digs at the Columbia Club.
__________

Most grown-ups, being wise, make expectation adjustments when they go to children’s theater. The primary goal of these events, they figure, is to entertain the young ones, and if some moments of grown-up pleasure happen, well, that’s a bonus.
 

A&E The humans tower above the pets—thanks to stilted costumes—in the national tour of “The 101 Dalmations Musical.” Real dogs do make brief, but memorable, appearances. (Photo/Joan Marcus)

It is possible, of course, for children’s theater to transcend to a blissful spot where adults enjoy a show just as much as kids do. From “Annie” to “The Lion King” and beyond, the potential is always there that creative folks will win out over the purely business-minded and create something of greater value than the next Kid-TV-Show-Live! arena extravaganza.

Clearly, some effort was made to raise “The 101 Dalmatians Musical” into those ranks. The show, whose national tour stopped at Clowes Hall March 9-14, hired Broadway pro Jerry Zaks to direct, commissioned Dennis DeYoung of Styx fame to compose the score, and hired an established, talented core for the cast. They’ve also figured out ways to punctuate the show with actual dogs (even if necessity calls for the title pooches to be played by humans, puppets and cut-outs most of the time).
  They’ve also gone to a lot of trouble to construct stilted costumes for the humans so they tower above the actors-playing-dogs.

The problem is that no convincing case is made that this show has any business being a musical, let alone being on stage. No characters experience any sort of personal evolution. Think of the journey Simba in “The Lion King” goes through, or the evolving romance of the Beast and Belle. In contrast, Pongo and Missus are just a pair of dogs whose family is threatened by a lunatic.

Even potentially strong emotional moments are watered down —- particularly involving Perdita, a Dalmatian whose husband and kids are missing.

As for the music, it’s OK in a direct-to-DVD-sequel sort of way.

Still, “The 101 Dalmatians Musical” is a marked improvement over last season’s abysmal “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” And the real dogs are immensely appealing.
__________

I have a long-standing fondness for the Little Sisters of Hoboken, the cloister of habited divas who evolved from a line of greeting cards into the quintet of characters in Dan Goggin’s musical “Nunsense.”

That’s largely because, unlike other theater-for-people-who-don’t-really-go-to-theater shows, “Nunsense” gives its actresses license to be playful. The message is clear that none of this wackiness really matters. It’s surprising and charming when a tender moment sneaks in, when the Saint jokes and easy audience jibes give way to a hint of sincerity. Or when a tune proves catchier than those in more ambitious shows and when, in the end, you realize how much you really like these ladies.

In Actors Theatre of Indiana’s production (through March 28 at the Carmel Community Playhouse), it sometimes seems the degree of Catholic knowledge isn’t that deep. And the trio of younger sisters could be better differentiated (street-smart Sister Mary Robert Anne, for instance, sometimes seems as wide-eyed and clueless as Sister Mary Amnesia). But all sound terrific and the show remains a hoot. And I’d check the roof for structural damage after Sister Mary Hubert (Claire Wilcher) lets loose on the arbitrarily show-ending number “Holier Than Thou.”
__________

Having worked together on the piece for several years, the troika of writer/actor/director that created “After Paul McCartney” (which ran through March 14 at the Indiana Repertory Theatre) found richness that would be near impossible in a traditional few-week rehearsal period.

Those rich moments and sharply etched characters (all from the one-man cast of Rob Johansen), helped balance the preponderance of coincidences that marred the show’s quest plot. And while an ambiguous ending seemed to raise an unsatisfied “Huh?” from the audience, playwright (and Nuvo arts scribe) David Hoppe’s nuanced story of a search for the title Beatle by a pair of adult friends raises interesting questions about the relationship between musician and fan.
__________

The Cabaret, which spent last year at the Connoisseur Room, now is comfortably ensconced at the Columbia Club, where singer/songwriter Amanda McBroom offered a strong show March 5-6.

While the room has lost some of its predecessor’s tightly packed intimacy, the feeling is now supper-club swanky. And the billowing backdrop, the Monument Circle view, and the knowledge that Hoagy Carmichael’s piano is upstairs add to its sophisticated pleasure.

McBroom promised a celebration of the music of French legend Jacques Brel, but saved his songs for after intermission. Before that, she focused mostly on her own tunes, ranging from the trying-too-hard, maudlin “Wheels,” to the stunningly specific “Errol Flynn,” a tribute to her supporting actor father that is as beautifully constructed as her biggest hit, “The Rose,” (which she saved to the end.)

Hearing the Brel songs made clear the influence he has had on McBroom’s writing. And her delivery was gutsy and strong and satisfying. Banter throughout was fun and smart and seemed very sincere. I’ll admit it: It feels nice when national talent is impressed with our town—if for no other reason than it makes it more likely her cabaret peers will hear the good word and visit.

Next up at the Cabaret: Brenda Williams and Shannon Forsell in “Sirens of Song” March 26-27, then “An Evening with Melora Hardin,” featuring the supporting player from TV’s “The Office.”•
__________

This column appears weekly. Send information on upcoming arts and entertainment events to lharry@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. The Affordable Care Act is not the reason for the slow recovery and lack of high paying jobs for low skill workers. This is a trend that has been going since the early 80's. The recovery is real in the sense that GDP has been growing steadily at a rate of roughly 2.5% since the recession ended in late 2009 (newsflash, the stimulus worked) and the unemployment has been steadily dropping. The reason issue we are facing deals with a skills gap (not enough workers with the right credentials / experience) and wage stagnation due to corporate America being focused solely on maximizing profits for shareholders and not caring about the American middle class. Why should they? Multi-billion dollar mutlinational companies keep offshoring their profits in order to avoid paying taxes (which makes our deficit worse) they convince Americans to fight amongst themselves. If you want to create jobs and reduce the deficit, raise the minimum wage and change corporate tax laws. Of course, if you want to continue to belive that tax cuts for wealthy create jobs (which they don't) and allow corporations and the wealthy to continue to make you cover more and more of the costs of maintaining infrastructure, funding the military and other government services, then keep voting Republican. Hopefully someday you wake up and realize what's been going on since Reagan took office.

  2. Helloooooo, my name is Kate. I am so joyous to share this wonderful testimony about what Dr. Osoijiakhena, a great spell caster, did for me and my family. I wedded a year and 6 months ago, we were very happy during this whole period, i really love my husband so so much. I started noticing changes when he started coming home late at night, he stop paying attention to me, i later found out that he was having an affair with another lady, i dont know what she did to get to him but she really got a hold on him. He started spending weekends with her, and threaten for divorce. I was so heart broken and devastated, i spent many night thinking on how to get my husband back. A friend took it upon herself to to introduce me to one Dr. Osoijiakhena, a great spell caster, who once helped her with a spell that reunited her family and helped her husband secure a very prolific job. Though i had my doubts and never believed, but i decided to give it a try because i was helpless. I contacted Dr. Osoijiakhena, the Spell caster, to help me reunite my family by bringing back my husband from that other woman and break whatever hold she had on him. He only just told me that it's a minor issue, once i provide and do everything he will ask me to do, then i will have my family back again. I did everything he required. And he did it!!!!! My husband returned back to me and pleaded for forgiveness, and i also secured a well paid job in a big company, just as the great spell caster, Dr. Osoijiakhena said. I am so so happy to share my testimony on this wall. I am using this medium to tell every one that has same or similar problem to try the great Dr. Osoijiakhena through his mail: drosoijiakhenaspell@gmail.com......he is so real!!!!! He can also help you with: (1) IF YOU WANT YOUR EX GIRL/BOYFRIEND TO RETURN BACK TO YOU (2) IF YOU WANT YOUR HUSBAND/WIFE BACK (3) IF YOU WANT TO BE PROMOTED IN YOUR OFFICE (4) IF YOU WANT YOUR MAN OR WOMAN TO LOVE YOU (5) IF YOU WANT A CHILD (BARREN) (6) IF YOU WANT TO BE RICH/WEALTHY (7) IF YOU WANT YOUR HUSBAND/WIFE TO BE YOURS FOREVER (8) IF YOU'VE BEEN SCAMMED AND WANT YOUR MONEY BACK (9) IF YOU ARE HAVING DELAY IN GETTING MARRIED (10) IF YOU HAVE A COURT CASE AND WANT TO WIN (11) IF YOU'RE A DRUG ADDICT AND YOU WANT TO REALLY STOP (12) IF YOU CANNOT IMPREGNATE A WOMAN (STERILE) (13) ALL TYPES OF DISEASES I advise you to contact the great Dr. Osoijiakhena, the spiritualist for solutions via his email: drosoijiakhenaspell@gmail.com

  3. Sergeant McNally is buried in Cathcart Cemetery on a hill known as McNally%u2019 Hill. The Cemetery is in a natural bushland setting and is very well maintained.The emergency department at Ararat Hospital is known as the John McNally Emergency Department. Cathcart is approx. 4.6 km from Ararat and is approx. 345 m above sea level.

  4. My spring chicken of a Mom is turning 75 years young. She is a big fan of Frankie and I think she would get a big kick out of the film. I wanted to take her to the Broadway play but am priced out. Thanks for your time and consideration. Oh yea, Wildwood! Joie

  5. I thought this company would go bankrupt in 2013/2014. I predicted that four years ago. I was wrong. It will take another couple of years, but they will get there.

ADVERTISEMENT