ORLANDO — While I’m normally not someone who cheers on shows that turn the cat into a villain, I was more than forgiving while watching the Orlando REP production of TheaterWorksUSA’s Dog Man: The Musical, based on the graphic novel series from Dav Pilkey.
I don’t know if I’m the only cat lover who tends to hiss whenever my beloved kitties become bad guys, but don’t rush off after the first appearance of Petey, the world’s most evilest cat, as he maliciously wreaks havoc in the city. While the title of this musical is Dog Man, in my view the real charmer is Petey, whose sinister plots are a delightful hoot. Okay, so some cats do indeed act like mini-fascists that treat their humans as servants, but don’t we truly love them anyway?
What is Dog Man The Musical?
This play, with book and lyrics by Kevin Del Aguila and music by Brad Alexander, opened Friday at Orlando Rep and continues through Oct. 2. The show does indeed start with Petey plotting world domination, but quickly shifts to the originals of Dog Man, a police officer who falls victim to one of Petey’s bombs.
However, it’s Petey who endures the real bomb, by accidentally creating Dog Man. In order to save the cop, doctors put a dog’s head on his body (I’m sure this happens a lot). Petey’s dastardly plans get much harder to pull off as Dog Man becomes the city’s top crime fighter.
Petey decides to fight back by cloning himself. It works, but with a glitch: Petey’s clone is a child , Li’l Petey, who keeps calling Petey his dad, much to his dismay. Petey had wanted an adult clone who could help him promote evil, not a wide eyed kid ready for adventure. His job of taking over the world just got a lot harder. Then there’s Flippy the cyborg fish, who accidentally consumes pills that make you smarter, and who is giving Petey a run for his money in the sinister department.
Is Dog Man The Musical a Good Show?
The show, which runs for 90 minutes with a 10 minute intermission, moves along at an enjoyable quick pace and has plenty of good silly humor, as well as a cast that hits just the right tone for a story like this. Brandon James Butorovich finds the perfect vphysical humor for what is close to being a silent role (save for the many Woof Woofs along the way), while Génesis M. Freytes Álvarez is even more fun as the innocent — and progressively heroic — Li’l Petey.
Ah but you have to give credit where it’s due, and I had the most fun watching Will Sippel in the flashy and delightfully over the top performance as Petey, who recognizes that a show like this is only as good as it’s villain. Petey’s sentimental turn makes this a heartwarming story of how your softer side eventually comes out, no matter how much you try to resist it. Sippel is hilarious in this role .
Where Can I See Dog Man The Musical?
Dog Man The Musical is being produced at the children’s theater at 1001 E. Princeton St. in Loch Haven Park, with shows on Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. There will be a special ASL Performance on Sept. 26 at 10:30 a.m.
To learn more, call the box office at 407-896-7365.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright, and author of the book When I Woke Up, You Were All Dead. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.