Dr Dolittle

Date 18th November 2017
Society South Moor Musical Theatre Group
Venue Alun Armstrong Theatre Civic Hall
Type of Production Musical
Director Joan Oldfield
Musical Director John Hudson
Choreographer Joan Oldfield

Report

Author: Michelle Coulson

Based on the books of Hugh Lofting, the musical Doctor Dolittle is about a doctor who doesn't really like people and so struggles to earn a living. His parrot, Polynesia, begins to teach him animal languages, and he decides to become an animal doctor and embark on adventure to find the Great Pink Sea Snail.

This musical is rarely tackled by amateur groups but this didn’t deter the production team. The music was in the capable hands of John Hudson and a superb twelve piece orchestra and director Joan Oldfield had obviously worked hard to bring together the larger than life characters both human and animal. The set allowed for quick transition from one scene to another and the changes were well carried out by the crew. Costumes were very good and the superb animal costumes added to the magic. 

The ensemble completely embraced the musical and gave good performances, especially during the “Save the Animals” number when the majority of them also had to wear animal costumes.

The main animal characters of Jip, Gub Gub, and Chee Chee were well portrayed by Kristian Stokoe, Angus Stuart and Anya Pilkington, all three maintained the mannerisms and kept their characters whilst wearing what must have been very hot costumes.

There was very good support in the cameo role of General Bellowes portrayed by Russell Rafferty, and Nick Goddard and Gillian Wilde gave a super rousing rendition of “Never Seen Anything Like it” as Albert and Gertie Blossom in the circus scene with the “Pushmi-Pullyu” (Eve Mc Roberts and Lucy Renwick). Harry Hudson gave a very natural and confident portrayal of Tommy Stubbins the doctor’s young companion and Gareth Lily as Straight Arrow was perfectly cast as the well-spoken leader of “Sea Star Island”.

Lindsay Kellegher as Emma Fairfax gave her character a believable sincerity, capturing the fire and passion of her character. Dolittle's larger than life Irish friend, Matthew Mugg, was perfectly played by Andrew Howe, his accent was good as were his musical numbers, in particular the duet with Dr Dolittle “Where are the Words”.  From the opening to the finale the constant character was the Doctor’s feathered friend Polynesia the parrot who kept a reliable eye on all of the action. Polynesia’s puppeteering was by David Rose and the voice Lee Passmoor, both combining to create a super character who was a great favourite with the audience.

Ian Mordue in the title role of Dr Dolittle was very well cast. Hardly ever leaving the stage he gave a believable and assured portrayal of the character; his many musical numbers were good and he had a super rapport with all of the characters furry and not.

South Moor MTG has had a very difficult run up to the show with the tragic passing of their secretary and friend Val Barnes who had been a member of the group since 1961 and secretary since 1973.  The show was dedicated to Val and I know she would have been proud of every single person. Well done.