"The 101 Dalmatians Musical" is a mixed bag of kid-level theatrics and dog-friendly melodrama.
Based on the Dodie Smith novel and two popular Disney films, the stage musical features actors as the singing and dancing canines.
Then — it happens: Twenty minutes into "The 101 Dalmatians Musical," Cruella DeVille makes her grand entrance, played intentionally over-the-top by Broadway veteran Rachel York. She looks 20 feet tall, snarls like Snidely Whiplash, and has a voice like a cannon.
Technically, this musical is a bit uneasy; the humans all sing and dance on stilts, making them look taller, but offering a sense of danger for the audience (no one fell over, however).
The voices of lead dogs Pongo and Missus are lovely, but only half of the songs work.
The biggest thrill is in watching a large cast of children steal the show in front of their peers. After all, this is a musical designed for a young audience.
And yes, a few "real" dalmatians appear in the beginning and near the end.
Lower your sights; this musical is average at best.
"The 101 Dalmatians Musical" has performances through Dec. 20 at Fair Park Music Hall in Dallas.