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T H E A T E R   R E V I E W  -  Dr. Dolittle  -  Broadway L.A.

 
        

Hollywood, CA - I was introduced to the character of Doctor Dolittle as a child and recall myself being charmed by the ideas of talking with animals and traveling to exotic far-flung lands in search of new, fascinating creatures. Granted, that was nearly 25 years ago - but despite the advancements in entertainment technology, the science of thrilling children remains quite rudimentary. Fantasy, honesty, adventure and wonder - not to mention a good number of catchy, singable songs - are all things that every child can really enjoy.

Nine-time Tony award winning Tommy Tune stars this a dazzlingly delightful new staged version of the 1967 Rex Harrison film. A staged version that respectfully stays true to its cinematic predecessor, and more importantly - true to the nature of author Hugh Lofting's novels on which the 
play is based. Doctor John Dolittle remains the charming, affable English country veterinarian who admits to getting along with animals better than people and much to the delight of last night's audience, has marvelous adventures with his animal friends. This "Everybody's Musical" is a great show for parents and others who love children to choose when introducing young ones to the magic of live theatre, while at the same time perhaps reminding themselves of their first important big stage show. Leslie Bricusse's songs speak to the child inside us all, and the chorus' vocal chops stand up to any other national tour or Broadway cast. Dee Hoty, who plays the haughty Lady Emma Fairfax sparkles with "At the Crossroads"; showing both great presence and vulnerability. She plays a fine villain-turned ingenue.

Patti Colombo's smart choreography is brilliantly executed by an energetic ensemble of over twenty five. She peppers in great traditional jazz along with some serious modern tap that bring the show to another level. Most notably, dancers Scott Leiendecker and Johnathan Richard Sandler as the Pushmi-Pullyu. These boys have the toughest job in the show, and shine like no other - both are definitely crowd pleasers! Additionally, young tap dancer Aaron Burr steals the show - right away from Mr. Tommy Tune - during the "Monkey-Monkey Island Dance"

Visually is where Dr. Dolittle excels, and here the audience gets a lot for their entertainment dollar. Dona Granata and Ann Hould-Ward's Costumes, Kenneth Foy's Scenery and Ken Billington's Lighting all please. Granata's animal designs of course are key, and the show wouldn't work without 
them or the amazing actor/puppeteer/dancers who are deft at operating their animals and all the while acting their hearts out. 

67 year-old Broadway legend Tommy Tune himself is fairly enjoyable as the title character. He plays directly to the audience through portions of the show, bringing them along for the ride which is helpful in keeping little ones involved. But oddly he makes a choice to model his singing style 
after both Anthony Newley and Rex Harrison. However, Tune is particularly good with "When I Look in Your Eyes". Tune's distinct performance style is at times a distraction to the suspension of disbelief. Unfortunately for the adults in the audience, his romantic relationship with the lovely 
Dee Hoty is as thin as cheesecloth. Tune's pacing also suffers on occasion. Perhaps due to his perspective and double-duty as director/star? 

Overall, Dr. Dolittle is a fresh touring production, and one that surely will win over lots of new fans of the theatre. There are many surprises that will wow audiences of all ages. - Kyle Nudo     Printable View


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Kyle Nudo, theatre critic for Maestro Arts & Reviews, is a Los Angeles-based actor and theatre producer.  
 

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