Anyone who loves dogs will adore Dog Man: The Musical. Anyone who believes felines are unjustly accused of being catty will find satisfaction that, no, they are capable of the redemptive power of love as revealed in Dog Man: The Musical. Anyone who has ever loved comic book characters will delight in their stage recreations in Dog Man: The Musical. It’s all at the heart of this wonderful world premiere of TheaterWorksUSA original production now playing at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.
The ingenious production is directed and choreographed by Jen Wineman with an exuberance that matches the worldwide appeal of Dav Pilkey’s characters, and is non-stop enjoyment from beginning to end. It is the story of two 5th graders, George and Harold, played by Forest Vandyke and Dan Rosales who, know it is time to move from the page to the stage with their comic creations. George knows it should be easy, after all “they make musicals out of everything these days. Even the guy on the ten dollar bill.”
The kids in the audience may not understand all the literary and theatrical references; the adults get them all. This is one of the secret s for this show’s success – its cleverness and its humor’s broad appeal.
The musical created and performed on stage brings to life its lead character, Dog Man (Brian Owen), a creature with the head of a dog and the body of a policeman. He will be the hero to fight crime incited by the deliciously evil cat, Petey, brilliantly played by Jamie Laverdiere. Mr. Owen has no spoken lines since he’s a dog, can only bark, and perfectly captures a dog’s behavior, from the wag of his tail to his downcast response to “bad doggie.” Mr. Laverdiere’s Petey is a dazzling display of feline agility and slyness through dance and song. Petey’s experiment to create an evil clone of himself goes awry. Instead, his Insta-Clone machine produces a cute little kitty in his image. Much to his dismay she’s the embodiment of love and goodness. One of the many clever songs in this production is the one where Petey tries to teach his little kitten clone the evil ABCs of wickedness. Unable to eradicate her sweet nature, he abandons the kitten, but our hero, Dog Man rescues and befriends her.
Petey is not the only evil doer in the city our hero Dog Man must bring to justice. There is Flippy (Crystal Sha’nae), the cyborg fish. She declares herself a real estate mogul and with her Living Spray creates a legion of the monstrous Beasty Buildings to wreak havoc on the city. They are brought defeated by the French Dressing delivery truck driven by Dog Man. You’ll have to see the show to enjoy this part.
Dog Man: The Musical’s vitality is enhanced by the vibrant and colorful costumes by Heidi Leigh Hanson and equally imaginative set design by Timothy R. Mackabee . Ultimately the designers, the audience and the comic characters all celebrate the possibility of universal friendship as Dog Man, our hero, captures Flippy and Petey and saves the day. Woof!
But maybe not. Just as we’re rounding up the bad guy, Petey manages to escape with a haw, haw! Let’s hope that’s a promise for more Dog Man adventures.
- Book and Lyrics: Kevin Del Aguila
- Adapted from the Dog Man series of books by Dav Pilkey
- Music: Brad Alexander
- Director and Choreographer: Jen Wineman
- Cast includes: Brian Owen, Crystal Sha’nae, Forest Vandyke, Dan Rosales , L.R. Davidson, Jamie Laverdiere
- Venue: Lucille Lortel Theatre
- Until August 4, 2019
- Running time: 90 minutes with intermission