HomeTheatreREVIEW: 101 Dalmatians at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

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 convey 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 eventually makes its premiere this summer season.  

The story has been up to date to present occasions with Cruella changing into a modern-day influencer, typically with modernisations, it may be somewhat ‘in your face’ however with this, it didn’t appear that means. Though there have been many plot holes across the modifications within the story, together with the explanation why Cruella has a fascination with the puppies, it wasn’t so important that we obtained solutions from it however 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 seemed on the likes of Matilda and aimed for that, and while the type of the present works considerably it doesn’t translate into the area very properly. 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’ve seen it earlier than (with the likes of Matilda). Recreating a profitable kids’s present does not imply the identical success might be replicated. It didn’t appear unique and there weren’t any memorable numbers, not even a giant 11’o’clock quantity for Cruella herself. Nicely, possibly there was, however I can’t keep 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 kids within the viewers not having an curiosity within the motion till act 2, when the chase turns into somewhat extra lively. And while that is clearly a kids’s present, I wouldn’t advocate bringing anybody beneath the age of 10 as their consideration won’t final, particularly in the course of the long-winded act 1. 

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

As Cruella, Kate Fleetwood is a triumph. She brings an empty script with not loads of background to life and for somebody who will not be referred to 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 powerful voice, however Fleetwood does and this could have been amended to showcase her abilities. 

The standouts of the night time have been Jonny Weldon as Casper and Danny Collins as Pongo. Weldon was humorous and a extremely 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 have been pointless and so they have been extra helpful puppeteering across the motion to create these imaginative scenes. 

While this isn’t the most effective, it is not terrible. It has potential however I’m afraid this miss may harm its future. An fascinating look ahead to theatregoers. 

Evaluate by Mark Swale 

Ranking: ★★

Seat: M26 | Value of Ticket: £65



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