Review: The Hundred and One Dalmatians at Chichester Festival Theatre

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Chichester Festival Youth Theatre return this festive season with Bryony Lavery’s modern adaptation of the Dodie Smith favourite.

It’s an unusual adaptation, too; linguistically clever, tricky and impressive but with an oddly un-engaging score by Matthew Scott and positively banal lyrics.

But the young performers lift the musical numbers and certainly do Lavery proud with their delivery of her slick dialogue.

All of them seem to be what’s known as the Triple Threat – actors, singers and dancers and, importantly, excelling at all three.

At the press night performance, Pongo was played by the very engaging Fred Davis. Davis has buckets of personality and ladles it out in his characterisation. Great singing voice and physical presence, too.

He’s very ably partnered by Romina Hytten as Missis and Beth Cave as Perdita. Great supporting-work comes from Daniel Mears, Amber Wadey, Lucy Pratt and Ed Waller as the dog-friendly humans and as the vile Fritz, Joseph Merchant excels.

But, oh, what can you say about the superb Poppy Crawford as Cruella de Vil? There is nothing ‘youth theatre’ about this performance; it is adult in its depth, intelligence and execution and one can only hope Miss Crawford intends to enter the profession.

The show runs until Saturday, January 3.