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Zaks Helmed 101 DALAMATIANS: THE MUSICAL Tour 'Unleashes' in Fall '09

A multi-city tour of 101 DALMATIANS directed by Jerry Zaks with a score by Dennis DeYoung and a book by B.T. McNicholl will hit the road starting in Fall 2009. There are no tour dates or locations announced at this time, but more information is expected soon.

Disney's animated film version was made in to a series of hit live action features starring Glenn Close as the villianess Cruella De Ville, the classic Dodie Smith's 1957 novel revolves around a canine family that must band together to overcome difficult times and dangerous foes. 

A musical adventure story with a lively contemporary score by Dennis DeYoung, the inspiration for the production's unique and delightful concept came directly from re-discovering the original novel.

Bookwriter BT McNicholl was charmed by the source material's whimsical point of view:

Not long ago, there lived in London a young married couple of Dalmatian
dogs named Pongo and Mrs. Pongo.. They were lucky enough to own a
young married couple of humans named Mr. and Mrs. Dearly, who were
gentle, obedient, and unusually intelligent, almost canine at times.

"Here is an enchanting, upside-down vision of the world: seeing life from the dogs' point of view," observed McNicholl. "Embracing this wonderfully daft proposition, we are instantly transported to a slightly topsy-turvy, exciting, and altogether fantastic reality that gives grand license for song, dance and spectacle."

Delivering the author's quirky premise required a simple, bold theatrical conceit. "We tend to look upon dogs as somewhat unusual, mysterious, and often amusing creatures, and no doubt we must seem the same to them."

"Typically," he points out, "stage productions present animals or exotic creatures using some form of puppetry (as in The Lion King) or dressing actors in animal costumes (Cats). But here, given that our premise is inside-out, we invert the equation: The animals are human and the humans are exotic."

"Thus, we present the humans in a heightened form of dress and scale so as to appear larger than life - as they would seem from a dog's point of view," says Director Jerry Zaks. As for the lovable Dalmatians, they will have "No ears, no paws - but, rather, a clever use of costumes in the black-and-white palette that will immediately set them apart from the human characters. This represents a technical solution to the question, ‘How do we present dogs and humans on stage simultaneously?'"

"Theatrical wizardry aside, audiences will want to see 101 DALMATIANS: THE MUSICAL because it's a classic tale," Zaks believes. "Children ripped away from their parents by a force of evil is frightening. How do the parents find their children and rescue them? Their reunion will be cause for rejoicing, and will enchant and mesmerize audiences of kids and grown-ups alike."

Jerry Zaks most recently directed Chazz Palminteri's A Bronx Tale on Broadway as well as the acclaimed City Center Encores! production of Stairway to Paradise.He has received four Tony® Awards, four Drama Desks, two Outer Critics Circle Awards, on Obie and an NAACP Image Award nomination for his national tour of The Tap Dance Kid.

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