Dog Man the Musical is a children’s show based on the bestselling books by Dav Pilkey, whose Dog Man series has sold more than 23 million copies. Dog Man the book has translations available in 30 languages, and the musical, with book and lyrics by Kevin Del Aguila and music by Brad Alexander, is faithful to the books. It focuses on the same witty protagonists, Harold (Dan Rosales) and George (Forest Vandyke), who are now now in the fifth grade at Jerome Horwitz Elementary and “way more mature and cultured.”
Harold and George break the fourth wall to tell the audience about the new musical they’re creating. The impetus: their teacher, Ms. Clayton, kicked them out of the school’s show and now, true to their creative and entrepreneurial nature, they are devising their own. As George says, “I mean, how hard could it be? They make musicals out of everything these days. Even the guy on the ten-dollar bill.”
The plot for their show begins in a police station. There Officer Knight,and his canine companion, Greg the Dog, get a call to disarm a bomb. At the scene they mistakenly cut the wrong wire, and their bodies suffer severe trauma. The only way to save them both is to surgically attach the dog’s head to the man’s body. Hence, the birth of Dog Man: “Part Man, Part Dog, All Hero!”—just one of the delightfully catchy songs from Alexander and Del Aguila.
There’s an additional engaging cast of characters, too: Flippy (Crystal Sha’nae), the bionic evildoer; Petey (Jamie Laverdiere), the cat criminal; and his clone Li’l Petey (L.R Davidson), who is not like Petey at all. Through funny movements and skillful vocals, the cast does an incredible job at capturing the humor and personalities of the characters. Their voices blend ideally in the melodies and are a great match for a children’s musical. They are energetic and cheerfully embrace the physicality required.
Within the musical by Harold and George are subplots. The characters Petey and Li’l Petey examine the bond between father and son. The selfish Petey gets rid of Li’l Petey because he doesn’t want the responsibility of being a parent. He later regrets it. Li’l Petey meets Dog Man, and they become best friends. Dog Man takes in Li’l Petey, now homeless and alone. He nurtures and looks after Li’l Petey until the next plot twist….
Rosales and Vandyke embody the humorous and lively nature of Harold and George and give them a breath of dynamism. They help carry the audience seamlessly from one storyline to the next. Like the book, they break the fourth wall and address the audience directly, which fans will appreciate.
Tim Mackabee’s sets, featuring movable buildings, are colorful and animated. They swiftly transform to depict various locations. The costumes by Heidi Leigh Hanson are versatile and charming; cat hats she designed for Petey and Li’l Petey are perfect.
The lyrics by Del Aguila are quick-witted and comical. A song called “Part Man, Part Dog,” Dog Man’s anthem, is catchy and rhythmical. One of the uplifting songs in the musical is called “The Happy Song” and is sung by Li’l Petey:
“HHHH, I’m Gonna sing me a happy song! A happy song! A happy song! And if you feel you Wanna sing a long get ready to tap your toes, ’cause here’s how my happy song goes LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA! LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA! DOE-DI-LY DOE-DI-LY DOE-DI-LY DOE! It’s the happiest song I know.”
Del Aguila does a skillful job of taking the essence of the book and giving it his own flavor. Aside from all the fun and dance numbers, Dog Man the Musical comments on the importance of words and art and how they have the power to move hearts and open a space for love. The message is reflected in Li’l Petey’s creative endeavors; they save a few characters in the musical. His innocent approach thaws the evil surrounding their hearts in a touching way.
Dog Man will not disappoint its fans, and those who have not read the books are likely to enjoy it as well. Del Aguila and Alexander have created a high-powered, magnetic show that will keep young (and older) audiences captivated for 90 minutes.
Dog Man the Musical is playing through Aug. 11 at Lucille Lortel Theatre (121 Christopher St.). The performance schedule is Saturdays at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.; Sundays at noon and 3 p.m. To purchase tickets, call Ovation Tix at (866) 811-4111 or visit https://twusa.org/shows-artists/on-tour/dog-man/ or https://ci.ovationtix.com/35179/production/1008032. The show runs for 90 minutes with an intermission.