Directed by Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks (Guys and Dolls), the musical adventure story — which is apparently not associated with the famous Disney films — will boast a contemporary score by Dennis DeYoung, and a book by Zaks' protégé BT McNicholl. The "inspiration for the production's unique and delightful concept came directly from re-discovering the original 1957 novel by British author Dodie Smith," according to production notes.
The family-friendly tale concerns Mr. and Mrs. Pongo, a pair of spotted dogs, whose puppies are dog-napped by Cruella de Vil.
McNicholl said in a statement, "Here is an enchanting, upside-down vision of the world: seeing life from the dogs' point of view. 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."
Humans will be "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," stated Zaks. The Dalmatians 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?'"
As an added surprise, "the creators promise a special ending with real Dalmatians, in a one-of-a-kind finale that will leave everyone cheering." BT McNicholl is a BMI Award-winning librettist and lyricist, whose work includes the musical The It Girl (published by Samuel French and Hal Leonard Publishing). He is also a respected director.
DeYoung is best known as keyboardist, songwriter and a founding member of the rock group Styx. He was the lead singer and composer of Styx hits, "Lady," "Come Sail Away," "Best of Times," "Mr. Roboto," and more. His musical The Hunchback of Notre Dame was an extended hit in Chicago in 2008. (The first production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, was staged in Nashville, by the Tennessee Repertory Theater.) For more information, visit Dennis DeYoung.com.
Zaks won Tony Awards for Direction of Six Degrees of Separation, Lend Me a Tenor, The House of Blue Leaves and Guys and Dolls. He also directed the popular Smokey Joe's Café and the revivals of Anything Goes and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (he was Tony-nommed for all three).
In 2001-02 producer Luis Alvarez produced a popular stage version of 101 Dalmatians in Spain.
A complete tour schedule and casting have not yet been announced, although Broadway/San Diego has announced a booking of the show for June 2010.