If you have elementary school-aged children, then you probably know all about Dog Man. The books, written by Dave Pilkey, are about the half dog, half man superhero who protects the city from all kinds of crazy shenanigans. But now the book has come to life (literally) in Dog Man: the Musical, a show that is dog-gone hilarious.
Taking place at the New World Stages in New York City, Dog Man: the Musical tells the tail (ha) of George and Harold, two best friends who are trying to come up with an epic comic that will beat all others. They decide to write a musical based on the coolest canine character of all — Dog Man, a crime fighter who’s half man, half dog…and all hero.
In a wink and nod to the Hamlet-esque genre of a play within a play, George and Harold come up with a story about how Dog Man manages to fight crime — even though he really just wants to chew on the furniture instead. In their treehouse, George and Harold show how Dog Man came to be, why a sweet fish named Flippy becomes an evil cyborg and takes over the city, and how Dog Man ultimately saves the day. But it won’t be easy, as the cunning cat Petey tries to thwart him at every time. In fact, he even tries cloning himself to create even more chaos, but instead winds up making Li’l Petey, a sweet kitty that show Petey the error of his ways and why kindness always wins.
Now, the stage for Dog Man: the Musical is simple enough with costumes and props that look like kids could have made them (which, ahem, is exactly the point). All of the actors take on multiple characters, costume changes, and even are involved in set changes, whether it’s transforming into a building or playing highly skilled surgeons. Somehow, the actors do this effortlessly and brilliantly, with precise movements and enthusiasm which only adds to the excitement of the show.
Parents who might come to the show simply because they have a Dog Man fan in their home will be thoroughly entertained during the 90-minute show. While Pilkey’s Dog Man is an adorable character in its own right, it’s the stars of Dog Man: the Musical that truly make the show come to life. Jamie LaVerdiere is delicious as Petey, a cat-agonist with a penchant for taking over the world. His solo, “Revenge” is Broadway-worthy, and L.R. Davidson as Li’l Petey is pitch perfect as the heart of Dog Man: the Musical. And while he might woof more than he talks, Brian Owen in the lead role of Dog Man definitely deserves a round of a-paws.
Based on the audience’s reaction to the show, Dog Man: the Musical is exactly the kind of show that families need right now. It’s fun and funny and an easy night out with the kiddos. In addition to the great singing, dancing, and, of course, acting, what’s really great about the show is that it can inspire a lot of kid creativity. Kids might see themselves in George and Harold as they try to take inspo from their favorite book series and write their own comic in real time. It highlights not just their own originality but their ability to work together for a common goal, which is to write the coolest comic featuring their favorite character. After seeing the show, it just might inspire your own child to put pen to paper, too.
Dog Man: the Musical is playing at the New World Stages now through April 30. So go dig up some tickets to the show that everyone in your family will be wagging their tails about.