Don’t Miss ‘BARK! The Musical’
After attending Theatre Palisades productions at Pierson Playhouse for more than 20 years, I’ve enjoyed a wide variety of musicals and plays, and I thought I couldn’t be surprised at a performance. I was wrong.
The moment Julie Hinton started singing in “BARK! The Musical” on Friday night, I never wanted her to stop. She has a glorious voice, one that you could image hearing on Broadway. One that could easily handle the role of Christine in “Phantom of the Opera.” This is voice that should be singing Sondheim in larger venues.
Sooner or later someone will discover Hinton’s voice and it will be goodbye to community theater, but in the meantime, we have an opportunity to hear her locally.
The “BARK” cast is strong overall and the play sweet. If you’re a dog lover, you’ll spend most of the time smiling as six talented actors portray six different dogs. Besides Hinton, who plays Chanel, Greg Abbot is a lovely “King” of a dog.
Elena Coleman is delightful as Boo and Marina Curtis Tidwell is a formidable Golde. Peter Miller is Sam the mutt and Ben Fuligni is Rocks, an energetic puppy.
The story is told in two acts, the first at Deena’s Doggie Daycare and then at the “Pali” Dog Park.
Coleman and Fuligni are new to the Los Angeles stage. Coleman, who graduated with a BFA in Musical Theater from Ohio Northern University, and Fuligni, who recently graduated from Tufts, are delightful.
Director Susan Stangl has done an excellent job of staging the show. With help from choreographer Heidi Dotson, the “dogs” demonstrate not only that they can sing, they can move, too.
I loved the projections on the back of the wall during King’s number “I’m in Love with Lassie,” and during Sam’s “M-U-T-T Rap.”
The band, consisting of Gary Nesteruk (musical director and keyboards), Dan Radlauer, Dave Keif and Tom Zygmont, was excellent.
Additionally, back in July, producers Ria Parody Erlich and Sylvia Grieb held a canine contest to see which Palisades pooch would grace the cover of the poster.
Photos of almost 70 dogs were submitted and three judges narrowed it down to three pooches: Lucy (owners Jennifer and Kevin Sabin), Kiwi (owner Karon Koons) and Diego (owner Mary Kate McGeehan). All three grace the “BARK!” posters and playbill.
Theater patrons can look at the photos of the other dogs, which are hung around the theater lobby, to see if they agree with the judges’ choice.
During much of the run, Palisades residents who are working to secure an off-leash dog park in this community will be in the lobby to explain the steps taken and those still needed.
Actor Gavin MacLeod and Chamber legend Arnie Wishnick are executive producers, and there’s a chance you may see them at one or more of the productions.
“BARK!” had its world premiere in Los Angeles in 2004 and received rave reviews, including a Critic’s Choice from the Los Angeles Times. The show, with music by composer David Troy Francis and lyrics by Gavin Geoffrey Dillard, Mark Winkler and Robert Schlock, with additional lyrics by Jonathan Heath and Danny Lukic, ran for two years. The book is by Mark Winkler and Gavin Geoffrey Dillard.
The musical will run on weekends through October 7 with performances at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $25 for adults and $23 for seniors and students. Call: (310) 454-1970 or visit: theatrepalisades.com. Pierson Playhouse is located at 941 Temescal Canyon Rd.