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'Disney's 101 Dalmatians Kids' spotted at Stagecrafters in Royal Oak

Christiana Perrault is delightful as the evil Cruella in Stagecrafters' production of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians Kids.
Christiana Perrault is delightful as the evil Cruella in Stagecrafters' production of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians Kids.
Lance Luce

Disney's 101 Dalmatians Kids

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Just when you were running out of ideas to stimulate the imaginations of your home-for-summer kids – the dog days of summer arrive early. Actually, it’s Stagecrafters Youth Theatre to the rescue, with “Disney’s 101 Dalmatians Kids.” This is a short (35-minute) fast-paced musical based on the film and distilled down for young audiences. With fun costumes and colorful sets with oversized props, there’s much to capture the attention of pint-sized patrons (all kids welcome, but no babes-in-arms).

Cruella DeVil (Christiana Perrault of Southfield) and her bumbling henchmen Horace (Matt Harmon of Royal Oak, left) and Jasper (Patrick Roache of Detroit, right) plot to steal Dalmatian puppies to make a new fur coat. Stagecrafters Youth Theatre present t
Photo by Lance Luce

This production is directed by Jody Florkowski of Ferndale, with cute choreography by Zak Shugart (who has a long list of acting credits at Stagecrafters), and stars over 40 actors aged 8 -18. As if a show about adorable puppies doesn’t have enough of an “awwww” factor, imagine those puppies being played by adorable little kids. Add some highly talented teenagers who do the heavy lifting on the lead roles, and you have a show that is entertaining for the entire family.

In fact, this is actually a double bill in which the “101 Dalmatians” is simply the headline draw. The “first act” is an amazing concert of Disney favorites sung by the Stagecrafters Youth Choir, directed and accompanied by Randy Wrisinger. Pulled from old favorites (“The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and The Beast,” “ Lion King”) and marching through the Disney canon to current favorites (“Frozen”) this concert showcases some of the truly gifted voices in the cast, arranged with charming harmonies, alternating parts and subtle dynamics that were especially impressive given the youthfulness of the choir. This is worth the price of entry on its own merit.

After a brief intermission (during which many of the choir members are transformed into doggies) the action returns with everyone’s favorite spotted pups. The stage adaptation of the iconic “101 Dalmatians” Disney film follows the same story, condensed and fitted out with a charming musical score. (And yes, the “Cruella DeVil” song you know and love is featured in both the show and the concert.) The story takes place in London where new Dalmatian parents, Perdita (Cece Jones) and Pongo (Jake Zelinski) are very proud of their large, frisky litter of puppies. The canine family is cared for by their doting human “pets” – Anita (Hallie Williams) and Roger (Brendan Battle). All is well until Anita’s former classmate and current neighbor, Cruella DeVil shows up (with a standout performance by Christiana Perrault). Cruella is obsessed with having a fur coat (with matching boots and muff) made out of the puppies’ sweetly spotted fur. She enlists her bumbling henchmen, Horace (Matt Harmon) and Jasper (Patrick Roachein) in a devious plan to snatch the puppies, and they do. So it’s up to Pongo and Perdita to mount a daring rescue, aided by all the dogs of London. Half the fun of this show is just seeing how the canine costumes reflect their breed – Boxers, Scotties, Chihuahuas and French Poodles are all represented.

The entire show (with concert and intermission) runs within a 75 minute time slot – easy for even wriggly kids – and families are invited to stay after the show for autographs from the young character actors.

After intermission of the Saturday, July 19 performance, Stagecrafters will be presenting the Jennifer DeRita Scholarship award to three recipients: Carolyn Janney of Rochester Hills, Cecilia Bala of Royal Oak and Christiana Perrrault of Southfield. All Stagecrafters Youth Theatre Program graduating seniors will also be honored.

The show runs this week only, July 17 through 20, 2014. Show times are: Thursday, July 17 at 7 p.m.; Friday, July 18 at 12 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Saturday, July19 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, July 20 at 1 p.m. Advance tickets for performances are $8 for youth and $12 for adults. Tickets can be purchased online or by phone at 248-541-6430 using Visa and MasterCard. All seats are reserved. If shows have not sold out, tickets can be purchased at the box office one hour prior to the performance for an additional $2.00 per ticket. Advance purchase is highly recommended as Stagecrafters Youth Theatre productions tend to sell out. The Baldwin Theatre is located at 415 S. Lafayette in downtown Royal Oak.

“101 Dalmatians” Cast and Crew by Community

Auburn Hills

Cece Jones (Perdita)

Berkley

Michael Chalela (Dalmatian Puppy)

Beverly Hills

Lily Paul (Penny)

Birmingham

Gabe Farneti-Gerstler (Boxer)

Clawson

Reese McClelland (Dalmatian Puppy)

Elena Ochoa (Poodle)

Detroit

Ryan Kayla Martin (Narrator)

Patrick Roache (Jasper)

Grosse Pointe Farms

Hallie Williams (Anita)

Huntington Woods

Ryan Hurley (Police Officer)

Celia Lipton (Scotty)

Emily Muench (Spot)

Lake Orion

Samantha Bosch-Bird (Pepper)

Nathan Koss (Patch)

Lathrup Village

Cole Skory (Student Director)

Eden Skory (Dalmatian Puppy)

Livonia

Natalie Wilson (Chihuahua)

Pleasant Ridge

Regan Castle (Narrator)

Rochester Hills

Caroline Janney (Narrator)

Lauren Janney (Lucky)

Jake Zelinski (Pongo)

Royal Oak

Andrew Bala (Dalmatian Puppy)

Cecilia Bala (Narrator)

Brendan Battle (Roger)

Alexa Dewey (Dalmatian Puppy)

Tommy Gardella (Sergeant Tibbs)

Bryan Hanes (Scotty)

Matt Harmon (Horace)

Ethan Heckman (Dog Catcher)

Nick Joseph (Scotty)

Zack Joseph (Boxer)

Rachel Keteyian (Nanny)

Katherine Mutschler (Dalmatian Puppy)

Morgan Russ (Dalmatian Puppy)

Caroline Sharbaugh (Chihuahua)

Sarah Soraghan (Poodle)

Jackson Wicka (Dalmatian Puppy)

Southfield

Christiana Perrault (Cruella DeVil)

Troy

Maya Dunn (Poodle)

Emily Lourim (Student Director)

Mandy Marsili (Chihuahua)

Madison Strachan (Dot)

Warren

Connor Flores (Boxer)

Mara Karpuk (Dalmatian Puppy)