BARK! The Musical Gets Inside the Minds of Dogs

Charlie and the girls

Ever wondered what was going on in your beloved dog's head?  What makes them happy, what makes them sad? What do they do when you're not around? What does all the seemingly nonsensical howling really mean? Loyal dog fanatics, David Troy Francis Michael Boustead, Jerry Ryan, and Chandler Warren, like many of you, have also pondered this subject matter, and have thus headed a production with their own interpretations of  what really goes on in the mysterious minds of our canine pals. BARK! the musical attempts to provide answers to dog-lovers' enduring questions through a collaboration of twenty-three catchy tunes, sung from the perspectives of our favorite fur-covered friends.   

BARK! made its premiere to the public almost a year ago at the Coast Playhouse in West Hollywood.  Nearly twelve months later, with almost 200 performances under its belt, BARK! is a hit musical that has earned 'two paws up' from the Hollywood office of The Humane Society of the United States.  Esteemed director/choreographer, Kay Cole, working with composer, David Troy Francis, have together created an imaginative and fun-filled musical

The Coast Playhouse in West Hollywood

that is praised by animal-lovers across varying age groups. Though at first, this musical may easily be mistaken as children's entertainment, its witty humor and sometimes explicit lyrics are more appropriately suited for and appreciated by mature audiences above twelve-years-old.

The Coast Playhouse is a comfortably small theater which seats approximately a hundred people. The first-row seating is only an arm's reach away from the stage, while the furthest seat is still no more than fifteen feet away from the all the action.  This cozy space, where there is no such thing as the 'nose bleed' section, offers everyone a clear view of everything that happens on stage, even down to smallest details such as the facial expressions of the actors. The stage set itself is a little less than spectacular, comparable to those of small-scale middle and high school productions.  Its setting, which is 'a day in the life at doggie daycare,' provides absolutely no change in scenery throughout the entire play. Along with this unchanging backdrop, the plot of this musical seems to be unchanging as well.  That is, there seems to be real plot, and if there is one, it goes nowhere. There is no arising problem to overcome, no resolution to the problem, and thus, no true climax. It is basically a medley of twenty-three separate songs, linked together with the common idea that the six 'dogs' are at doggie daycare together. 

The 6 canines fighting for toys during "Dirty Filthy Old Flea Bag"

Despite not having a clearly defined plot, the one and a half hours, which the show endures, goes by very quickly.  The six cast-members of BARK!, which include Katy Blake, Nicole Kaplan, Ginny McMath, Jamey Schric, Adam Simmons, and Joe Souza, are extraordinarily compelling in each of their roles as Molly, Chanel, Boo, Chester, Ben and Charlie, accordingly. Though each character has his or her own loveable qualities and quirks, I, personally, am particularly partial to Molly, Chester and Ben, due to the provocative songs given to these characters.  My favorite songs include Molly's 'Hey, you!' which insinuates sexual pleasure in her love for being scratched by her owner, Chester's 'Ruff Ruff World,' in which he describes the horror of being neutered and having nothing left to please the ladies with, and finally, Ben's flamboyantly fun song, 'Senorita La Pepita Rosarita.'  Lyricists, Gavin Geoffrey Dillard, and Robert Shrock, along with musical director and composer, David Troy Francis, did an excellent job in putting together this wildly creative set of captivating tunes.

A group of friends at Doggie Day Care

BARK! is a delightfully imaginative musical that leaves everyone in the audience smiling.  With its great productions team, an impressive set of catchy songs, and an amazing cast, BARK! is an enjoyable musical experience for both humans and dogs alike.  Yes, there are actually four-legged audience members watching this human interpretation of their lives, and only they can know the extent of the show's accuracy.  What we do know, however, is that, realistic or not, BARK! is a charming, feel-good musical that makes us feel that much closer and more understanding of our beloved pets.

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