The director has wrangled difficult stars before. But the latest batch of demands is unprecedented: four trainers, a bus with 15 private beds, and a special fridge stocked with bottled water, peanut butter snacks, chicken and—Dog Chow? “I’ve got real divas on my hands,” says Tony-winner Jerry Zaks, laughing.
The divas in question are, of course, the doggy stars of The 101 Dalmatians Musical, which begins a 24-city tour in Minneapolis on Oct. 13. While humans do the singing, dancing and talking in this show (based on Dodie Smith’s 1956 book), 15 real dalmatians carry a scene in Act 1 and the finale on their own. “No one has done this before,” says producer Lee Marshall, giving credit to trainer Joel Slaven, who found nine of the dogs at shelters and spent four months prepping them. But preparation goes only so far. “Please God, let them not have to go to the bathroom,” says Zaks, adding that come what may, “I’m not worried. The dogs are so charming, the audience is going to love them.”