22 February 2010

101 Dalmatians or How much do I hate stilts...

I am truly sad to write this review. I *wanted* to like this show. In a way I do. There are dogs that do tricks and a group of children that are fantastic performers.... but that is it. They could have done a better job adapting this to the stage.

Let me start by saying this, little ones will love it....... mine did. But for us adults there are some really serious problems with this show. I can't see having them fixed without shutting down and re-doing the whole thing.

Let's dissect, shall we?

First mistake, the "human" characters on the show are on stilts. Why, you may ask... so that you get the idea that they are bigger than the human actors portraying the dogs. The stilts are covered by gigantic bell bottom pants or beyond ample skirts (think circus tent here) that look extremely uncomfortable to wear. From the moment they come out on stage they seem unsteady and stiff when walking. Yes, I know that with practice they might get better, but the stilts are a bad idea, you have to see it to get how wrong it looks. Cruella is on stilts, too, making what could be a deliciously evil character that you would love to hate into too much of a caricature. The actress that plays Cruella, Sara Gettelfinger, does what she can with her character but unfortunately she cannot compensate for the odd look. She is a great singer and when she is evil she is great but like I say everything looks so awkward........

Second mistake, set designer needs to be fired. It is trying to look cartoonish and it is just as awkward as the stupid stilts (can you tell I really hate them?). It looks out of proportion with the players. Elongated flimsy figures that worked well for El Greco, but he was painting 2 dimensional paintings and this is supposed to look tri-dimensional! There is a silly chase that is done with puppets and there is this gigantic gap between the panels that make up the base of it, that you can probably fit a 777 through it! There is also a brick wall made out of painted fabric that just seemed to sway in the breeze, will it be so difficult to stretch it over a frame?

Unfortunately, the above things kill the show. The kids that portray the pups are truly adorable and the most energetic players I have seen on stage since Wicked closed in Chicago. Some of the songs are catchy and cute, not necessarily the kind that you go home humming them, but pleasant enough to enjoy at the show. Most of the players are good and try to make the best out of the material they were handed but, they look so damn uncomfortable!

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