For the love of dog
Call it a sad by-product of modern life.
Rarely am I emotionally affected by reports of human suffering and death. But if, in the course of channel-surfing, my husband lands on Animal Precinct, the Animal Planet show that depicts tales of animal cruelty, I’ll cover my ears and run from the room. So, while I found DogMusic to be an important show, I also found it a bit upsetting.
This musical is presented by a new local theater company, TheatreWorks of Northern Nevada, as well as the TMCC Visual and Performing Arts Department. Directed by TMCC’s Paul Aberasturi, DogMusic tells the story of Ozzie, a runaway puppy who winds up in the pound, where he learns the pitfalls of doggie life.
Our narrator, a little girl played by Bernadette Garcia, tells the story of Ozzie (Nich O’Neil), a puppy adopted by a boy named Jimmy (Michael Rapisora). And let’s just say that Jimmy has a lot to learn about caring for a dog. Ozzie soon breaks free of Jimmy and, after some time on the street, ends up in the pound, where he meets three new pals. There’s Mildred (Lydia Bonaldi), an older dog who misses her idyllic life as a spoiled lap dog; Dumpster (Bud Perry), who used to live on the streets; and Lilly (Echo Olsen), a prim and proper ex-show poodle.
The music, written by Jess Platt, lingered in my head long after the last curtain. It’s through these songs that the dogs share their tales of woe with Ozzie, a canine who’s never known the joys of love between a dog and his master.
O’Neil perfectly captures the nuances of puppy movement. As Jimmy tries walking him on his leash for the first time, Ozzie’s lively thrashing and rolling truly resemble the happy panic of a puppy intent on play. Kudos to choreographer Catherine Eardly. Also, Rapisora is perfectly hateful as Jimmy, and Ryan Kelly’s turn as Jimmy’s soap-opera obsessed mother is genuinely hilarious.
One standout vocal performance is that of Olsen as Lilly, in her song “Show Dog.” She has good comic timing and can really belt out a tune; if anything, this venue is too small for her big voice. Perry, Bonaldi and O’Neil aren’t quite as talented in the singing department, but they’re likeable in their own doggy- related ways.
It’s important to note that while this show is billed as “family fun,” the animal cruelty and sad, pound-related themes were hard to watch. I’m wondering how a young, highly sensitive child would handle them.
Also, I found the prelude—a slide show of pets needing homes—very frustrating. Not only were the slides too big for the screen, meaning that you couldn’t read the animals’ names (Isn’t this important if you decide to adopt one?), but each slide was held for only about 10 seconds—not nearly enough time to actually read it. … A sad mirror of the life and death problems stray mutts surely face.
With a little parental direction, the show is a good one all of the family, and the opening act, involving the musical talents of a sweet pooch named Pacey, is absolutely precious and not to be missed—and believe me, I try not to use that word if I can help it!
Don’t be surprised if, after the show, you find yourself driving to the local animal shelter, desperate for some dog music of your own.