Park LaBrea News/Beverly Press
October 14, 2004
Forget about "Cats." "Bark!" the delightful new musical currently in
its world premier, is the show to howl about. A lighthearted breath of
fresh air, "Bark!" deals with the everyday life of poochies of various
pedigrees. They tell their stories, share their opinions or interact
in doggy chitchat, mostly done in song. They focus on important issues
like sock fetishes, going to the park, fleas, standing watch, the
mystery of sirens, dog-food vs people-food, loving their masters and
fulfilling their job of being man's best friend.
But this isn't merely a brightly, tuneful romp (composer/musical
director David Troy Francis), interwoven are a few realities that will
bring a tear to the eye; being tied up in a lonely space all day; the
horror of the pound; and fading into the next world. Each number
offers a different style of music, and its own story, presenting a new
set of creative problems for director/choreographer Kay Cole. However,
creative problems are what creative people, like Cole do best, and she
has done wonderful work here. As complete as our own human society,
this little grouping of six canines, played by six talented actors,
immediately wins you over from the opening number, "Bark!"
Katherine Von Till's operatic "Il Cane Dell' Opera" is comically
beautiful; Lauri Johnson's "Howling Just to Scare Away the Blues" is
musically and emotionally on perfect pitch; Joshua Finkel (sharing role
with Robert Mammana) rips our hearts out as a dog dreaming about
another planet where he can run free with "Terrier From Mars";Joe Souza
is a hoot as he leads the gang, dancing around the stage, "Whizzing On
Stuff"; Chad Borden (sharing role with Robert Alan Clink) excels with
the very funny "M-U-T-T Rap," which must have been a nightmare to
memorize, and Ginny McMath is laughably frightened by a leaf while
she's "Guarding Missy." A very important element, which drives this
play, is the terrific lyrics by Gavin Geoffrey Dillard & Robert Schrock
(with additional lyrics by Mark Winkler, Jonathan Heath & Kanny Lukic).
Also, Francis' music is nicely synthesized under the guidance of
conductor Chris Lavely. Dennis Kull (set), Steven Young (lights), Von
Clay (sounds), Barbara M. Lemper and Anthonly Garcia (costumes) make up
the fine design team.
Coast Playhouse, 8325 Santa Monica Blvd; Thursday through Saturday at
8:00pm, Sunday 3:00pm; though October 24; $35; (800) 595-4849.