Music and Lyrics by Gayla D. Morgan
Reviewer: Mark Clegg
Remember 101 Dalmatians? When in the first five minutes Roger and Anita find love dog-walking in the park? Well, A Dog Story takes this idea, adds a big dose of modern cynicism and creates a musical that seems as slight as the soundtrack’s thirty minute running time.
Roland (David Perlman) is being passed over for a promotion at work, the reason for which he concludes is that he is single. His friend Guy (Brian Ray Norris) suggests that getting a dog would attract ladies and once he has hooked one – specifically Blair (Stefanie Brown) – he can get rid of the animal. This plan works up to a point until Blair insists that Roland take his puppy (called Cupid, which illustrates how subtle this show is not) to a female dog trainer called Miranda (Lindsie VanWinkle). And from that, no doubt you can accurately predict the entirety of the subsequent plot, or at least you can if you have seen one of about a million clichéd romantic comedies. Many much-loved musicals have equally thin and predictable stories, but manage to become classics on their other strengths. Unfortunately, A Dog Story struggles to find its feet (paws?) in any department.
Musically it isn’t bad, nor is it great. Ironically when most composers struggle to find them, many of Gayla D Morgan’s tunes have catchy hooks that immediately stick in the mind. However, this is undermined by her not knowing what to do with them, leading to songs being repetitive and ultimately boring while remaining strangely catchy. This makes them better suited to CBeebies than Off-Broadway, and having a three-piece orchestra doesn’t help cover any weaknesses. Morgan’s lyrics are also frustratingly mediocre, being neither terrible nor particularly clever or witty. They too suffer from repetitiveness. The cast are talented enough but cannot raise the material above mediocrity, meaning that they also come across as rather bland.
Like a puppy, this show is cute and eager to please but sadly unable to keep enough control to avoid making a mess.
Available from Broadway Records