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REVIEW: 101 Dalmatians at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Coming straight from a triumph run of Legally Blonde, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre carry us their second musical of the 2022 season with a brand new adaptation of 101 Dalmatians. The present was beforehand set for the 2020 season, was postponed till 2021 and at last makes its premiere this summer season.  

The story has been up to date to present instances with Cruella changing into a modern-day influencer, generally with modernisations, it may be a little bit ‘in your face’ however with this, it didn’t appear that manner. Though there have been many plot holes across the adjustments within the story, together with the rationale why Cruella has a fascination with the puppies, it wasn’t so very important that we received solutions from it nevertheless it did lack within the character’s improvement. And I’ll say this, Dominic and Danielle actually need to spend money on a brand new lock on their entrance door. 

The present clearly appeared on the likes of Matilda and aimed for that, and while the type of the present works considerably it doesn’t translate into the house very effectively. The wordy lyrics get swallowed up within the open air and the understanding of the viewers turns into imprecise. 

The music and lyrics, by Douglas Hodge, didn’t hit the mark. While I respect the idea, we now have seen it earlier than (with the likes of Matilda). Recreating a profitable youngsters’s present doesn’t suggest the identical success will be replicated. It didn’t appear unique and there weren’t any memorable numbers, not even an enormous 11’o’clock quantity for Cruella herself. Nicely, perhaps there was, however I can’t bear in mind it. Even an hour after the present. 

The place this present actually fails is we don’t have anybody to root for. With the dearth of character improvement and plot holes, we don’t have a transparent hero and this result in youngsters within the viewers not having an curiosity within the motion till act 2, when the chase turns into a little bit extra lively. And while that is clearly a youngsters’s present, I wouldn’t suggest bringing anybody underneath the age of 10 as their consideration won’t final, particularly in the course of the long-winded act 1. 

With puppetry design and course by Toby Olié, it took me a short while to know what they had been doing however I ended up loving the concepts and ideas. The usage of puppets is a quite common factor in theatre these days with the likes of The Lifetime of Pi and Animal Farm but in addition taken into mainstream business theatre like Frozen and The Lion King. That is unique and new, it bridges the cap between puppetry kinds we’ve seen in Avenue Q (the place the actor doesn’t have a look at the puppet and talks immediately outwards) and of that in Conflict Horse (the place the actors are centered on the puppet for us to consider it’s a actual, respiratory animal). It is stunning and never one thing I’ve seen earlier than. 

As Cruella, Kate Fleetwood is a triumph. She brings an empty script with not lots of background to life and for somebody who is just not often known as a singer, she brings the home down with highly effective vocals. The rating appears to have been written for an actor who doesn’t have a robust voice, however Fleetwood does and this could have been amended to showcase her abilities. 

The standouts of the evening had been Jonny Weldon as Casper and Danny Collins as Pongo. Weldon was humorous and a very beautiful addition to the story and Collins introduced unbelievable vocals and a efficiency that captured the kids within the viewers. 

The ensemble, while extremely gifted, didn’t add to the story. The massive dance numbers had been pointless they usually had been extra helpful puppeteering across the motion to create these imaginative scenes. 

While this isn’t one of the best, it is not terrible. It has potential however I’m afraid this miss would possibly injury its future. An fascinating look ahead to theatregoers. 

Evaluate by Mark Swale 

Ranking: ★★

Seat: M26 | Value of Ticket: £65



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