Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre's production of 101 Dalmatians officially opened at the London venue July 22 following previews that began July 12. Starring Olivier and Tony nominee Kate Fleetwood as Cruella de Vil, performances continue through August 28.
In the video above puppet designer and director Toby Olié, who also helped develop the breathtaking puppets for the Tony-winning War Horse, discusses his process for bringing the title canines of this new musical to life.
"I think the sort of different forms that we have in the show keep that sense of play and fun about the dogs and their relationship with their owners," says Olié.
Fleetwood is joined by Stuart Angell as Captain (head), George Bukhari as Jasper, Sonya Cullingford, Karen Fishwick as Danielle, Tom Peters as Captain (voice), Eric Stroud as Dominic, Jonny Weldon as Casper, and Grace Wylde as Madam Doué.
The ensemble includes Jamil Abbasi, Sonya Cullingford, Joseph Fletcher, CJ Johnson (who will play Cruella August 10 and matinees August 18 and 25), Kody Mortimer, and Courtney George with swings Jade Davies, Taofique Folarin, Tash Holway (also the dance captain), and Simon Oskarsson.
Dalmatians Pongo and Perdi are puppeteered by Danny Collins (Pongo Voice), Emma Lucia (Perdi Voice), Yana Penrose (Perdi Head), and Ben Thompson (Pongo Head). The young company alternating as Dalmatian puppies includes Rebecca Bennett, Charlie Man-Evans, and Harmony Cover-Allicock for Button; Darcey Fryer-Bovill, Rhiya Rasalingam, and Paul Sarte for Lucky; Oscar Cox, Charlie McGonagle, and Albie Salter for Patch; and George Clarke, Hadlee Snow, and Howard Webb for Spud.
Musicians include Ollie Boorman, Sam Edgington, Tom Harrison, and Liam Spencer-Smith, alongside Susanah van den Berg, Helena Gullan, Mischa Jardine, Liz Kitchen, Sam Morgan Grahame, Sioned Saunders, who also feature in the ensemble.
The newly commissioned musical, based on the book by Dodie Smith, features music and lyrics by Douglas Hodge and a book by Johnny McKnight from Zinnie Harris' stage adaptation. This new adaptation is separate from both Disney's 1961 animated film and an earlier musical adaptation by BT McNicholl and Dennis DeYoung that toured the U.S. in 2009 starring Rachel York as Cruella.
The creative team also includes casting assistant Shanaé Chisholm, associate director Josie Daxter, casting director Jill Green, associate choreographer Tash Holway, voice and text and season associate director Barbara Houseman, lighting designer Howard Hudson, assistant puppet director Maia Kirkman-Richards, sound designer Nick Lidster for Autograph, costume designer Katrina Lindsay, season associate/intimacy support Ingrid Mackinnon, musical director Tarek Merchant, children's casting directors Verity Naughton and Nick Hockaday for Verity Naughton Casting, puppetry designer and director Olié, set designer Colin Richmond, sound designer Ella Wahlström, and creative associate Nic Wass.