Jeff Britton
Special to The Desert Sun
July 27, 2005

Dog fancier or not, if you want to find the long overdue antidote to "Cats," head over to the Coast Playhouse in West Hollywood. Now in its 11th month, "Bark!" is the sort of lithe little musical that affirms the adage that every dog has his day. Under Kay Cole's impishly buoyant direction, the youthful cast of six conveys every canine caper from a pooch's perspective with whimsical results.

The dialogue takes the form of 24 appealing songs by David Troy Grancis - abetted by five lyricists - which include ballads, rap, opera, torch songs and even a doggy soft-shoe vaudeville routine. "At the Park" has the be-bop of the Andrews Sisters, while "Mutt Rap" proclaims the supremacy of mixed breeds by ticking off the deficiencies of various pedigrees.

Yet among Francis' frolicky numbers are a few with real resonance for pet owners. A touching duet from the dog pound tells of one dog who outlived his master and another who lost her puppies. "Howling Just to Scare Away the Blues" reminds us how dogs are social creatures and hate to be alone for extended periods.

Overall, the show is a celebration of man's best friend and how little he asks for a lifetime of devotion. It's a surefire cure for the summertime blahs.


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