50 and a Half Stilts

In a follow-up to a previous post, because it’s something to post, the touring production of 101 Dalmatians: The Musical opened in Minnesota at Minneapolis’ Orpheum theatre last Wednesday night. One unique aspect of the production, namely that the human characters would be “larger than life” was revealed to be… stilts. Yes, the performers in the human roles parade around on stage wearing stilts, including acclaimed Broadway performer Rachel York in the Cruella De Vil role. Makes you wonder if she knew about the stilts before or after she signed the paperwork.

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This is shameless, I know.

Reviews from the opening night were mixed, though most noted the audience reaction was less mixed and more on the positive side. No doubt there’s a lot of crossover between film and theatre critics, and a cognitive dissonance between their opinion and box office grosses is hardly unheard of. The music is all original, and not based on any from the 1963 Disney animated production. That means the memorable “Cruella De Vil” ditty is absent here. The plot follows that of the book about as loosely as the various movies have.

Pictured here as De Vil, wearing what appears to be a large swatch of shag carpeting from the late 1970′s, York’s performance is roundly praised amongst otherwise mixed reviews. None of this means too much, as one of the purposes of a touring production prior to a Broadway run is to tweak the show based on audience reaction. This may well happen before the show finds a more long term home on Broadway later next year. It seems the one certainty is they’ll want to keep Rachel York on, whatever else may change.

Currently the show is running in Appleton, Wisconsin, and will head on to Atlanta and Washington DC after that. It will make it to our backyard around Thanksgiving, playing The Long Center Nov. 24-29th. You can check out all the listings on our 101 Dalmatians Tickets page.

Escape from Rachel York

98 To Go

98 To Go

Adorable Dalmatian puppies take note: Broadway and Hollywood actress Rachel York has been cast as Cruella de Vil in the upcoming touring production of 101 Dalmatians – The Musical. Based on the same book by Dodie Smith as the Disney animated movie from 1961, and subsequent live action version from 1996, the musical will follow the adventures of Dalmatian Pongo, his canine spouse, and their 10 Dalmatian puppies in London. Those 10 plus the other 91 dognapped Dalmatians add up to the number in the title. Like some encountering the story as a child, it took me a while to catch on to the fact that all 101 weren’t all from the same mother.

When not on Broadway or doing guest star roles, Miss York has done some voice over work in both animation and video games, including a guest stint as Wonder Woman nemesis Circe in the recent Justice League series and some minor roles in the game Neverwinter Nights 2. Yes, I’m the only person who would think to mention either one of those roles. Circe is notable primarily because it would make Cruella the second character Rachel York has played with very unique hair color.

The touring production of 101 Dalmatians – The Musical starts up this coming October at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. Directed by Tony-award winner Jerry Zaks, the production is said be from a “dog’s eye view” of the world, with humans as larger than life figures on stage. It will also feature actual Dalmatians, many of which were rescue dogs, as “extras”. The principle pups will be played by actors of the human variety, though. Tickets are listed for the tour on our 101 Dalmatians – The Musical tickets page.