This is a tale about dogs: specifically Johnny the young puppy piano player in a shady speakeasy in 1920s New York City. The main plot involves Johnny stealing a precious diamond from the speakeasy owner, Boney Maroney, to woo the dog girl (bitch?) he fancies.
Something about these American hounds, with their easygoing charm and confidence, transforms the venue into a nostalgic haunt of 20s glitz and glamour
It all begins with our hero Johnny in the dog prison, and urged on by his fellow inmates, he recounts his adventure with the catchy musical number “Downtown NYC”. There in the city, the country pup wanders into the wrong door and ends up in an underworld of crime where he finds a job, mob friends who betray him and one other, and impossibly, love. As we end up back in the same prison house when the play concludes, we find that it’s not all too bleak, as surprises from his previous life keep coming up. The plot is a generic one of gangster comedy, but one gets a feeling that it’s all a satire – after all, it’s a show about dogs.
Along the way the performance is packed with hilariously cheesy puns and original musical numbers that almost had me think they are performing an adaptation of a broadway show. The quality of the acting is so polished that I could hardly believe they’re a student company. Something about these American hounds, with their easygoing charm and confidence, transforms the venue into a nostalgic haunt of 20s glitz and glamour.
To this end, the costumes are effective and the roles are very well chosen and well-assigned. The pacing is exciting and the choreography is appropriate. The characters sashay around the stage in endearing animal fashion while impersonating stock characters of gangster films like the godfather (or dogfather), the villainous sidekicks, and the prima donna. Physical humour elicits plenty of chuckles from the audience, not least when characters throw fits and show us their tailed rear-ends.
I would recommend this show to lovers of dogs and gangster movies. Those who want a more intimate viewing should make sure to seat themselves in the front row. You won’t regret this unique theatre experience.