Let’s Talk Theatre
with Don Grigware
March 2005

Woof, woof, woof for joy! Our feline friends have their show Cats, so it’s high time for our canine buddies to have one of their own too. Finally, a musical worth yip, yip, yipeaying about – Bark! at the Coast Playhouse that has deservedly been extended through April. Pianist and musical composer David Troy Francis told me that he always wanted to create A Chorus Line musical for dogs. Makes sense that the show begins and ends with the title musical number "Bark" that has the same pizzazz and dazzling style as "One" from A Chorus Line.

This is one terrifically rousing little show for an intimate space. 6 incredibly energetic singers/dancers, 3 male: Robert Alan Clink, Cliffton Hall (what a voice!) and Joe Souza and 3 female: Fleur Phillips (replacing Lauri Johnson), Meghan Strange (understudying Ginny McMath) and Katherine Von Till win their way into your hearts under the versatile direction/choreography of that dynamite original Chorus Line gypsy herself, Kay Cole.

Lauri Johnson-Katherine Von Till-Ginny McMath-Chad Borden
back row - Cliffton Hall-Joe-Souza

Each breed exudes its own unique canine personality, and they are here in the show one and all, with the actors making them instantly recognized and loveable. And Francis’ score (with lyrics by Gavin Geoffrey Dillard and Robert Schrock) is one of the very best I have heard in a long time. "Whizzin’ On Stuff", "Siren Symphony", "Dirty Filthy Old Flea Bag" will make you howl with laughter. "The Pound Song", "Friends Like Us", "A Grassy Field" and "Life Should Be Simple" will have you shedding a few tears, especially if you are a dog lover like me. Bark! is cute; it’s warm and cuddly, and it’s about as endearing a doggie treat that any human could wish for! And now heading into its seventh month at the Coast and nominated for 2 prestigious LADCC (Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle) awards for Best Score and Choreography, Bark! is making itself deliriously heard far and wide and may soon reach the New York Off Broadway theatre scene. Don’t miss it!


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