I wanted to love Doctor Dolittle. I wanted to feel the magic of theatre, hear the joy of a West End leading man and watch a spectacular production. Sadly, Dolittle did little for me.
Here’s the problem, it looks and feels like a community centre village play. I’ve never seen a more laughably simple, boring, outdated and uninspiring set.
To watch an obese man and two young female stage hands repeatedly struggling to push the set on and off the stage is ludicrous in 2018! In fact it was laughable at times.
So, here’s my Friday night in Bromley…
The show begins 16 minutes late with an apology from the producer saying that despite the cast working tirelessly for 5 weeks they’d not actually done a full run through of the show.
So, we’d basically paid to see a dress rehearsal. Unforgivable contempt. Here’s the producers announcement. CLICK HERE! I’ve never heard of this in 20 years of reviewing theatre.
Since uploading this review I have been trolled by some of the cast and their relatives, including several tweets from Vicky Entwhistle.
Apparently I’m ‘unkind and silly’ and ‘not professional’. Ms Entwhistle is not only libellous and ill-informed – but simply wrong. This show is/was NOT in preview – they were charging full price from day one therefore my review is 100%.
I may well not be a respected critic, but sadly for this production and every other show I’ve reviewed, I am the #1 rated theatre critic / reviewer on Google and YouTube. If you don’t believe me Google ‘Review Doctor Dolittle Musical’. File under home goal Vicky.
You cannot charge £52 a ticket (full price) and be in preview. To expect my sympathy for your production issues is ridiculous.
The Churchill Theatre have since refunded the price of my ticket in full and apologised for the standard of the production on Friday night. I have not however been compensated for losing a night of my life and having to stay in the Bromley Premier Inn.
So, to the show…
The puppets were cute and some were clever (especially the dog), but, this ain’t The Lion King…this show is at best OK. What a wasted opportunity.
This show simply doesn’t stand up to other touring shows for the same price – the most important factor!
Enjoy our audio / video review via YouTube:
Doctor Dolittle has a book, music and lyrics by double Academy Award-winner Leslie Bricusse. To be fair the songs are very well written and a good listen.
This new production is part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the original film that starred Rex Harrison. It does not do this enchanting story justice.
There is some impressive choreography and two moments in Act 1 that should set the standard. Outside of these numbers it’s a visual and audio mess. The lighting is at best simple and costumes un-remarkable. The constant ‘animal noises’ just sound silly.
Here’s the press release:
Join the eccentric Doctor, his human companions and his exotic menagerie of animal friends on an extraordinary adventure to find the Giant Pink Sea Snail, that holds the secret of life and making the world a happier place.
With help from the Pushmi-Pullyu and his trusty sidekick Polynesia The Parrot, the larger-than-life Doctor Dolittle teaches us not only to talk to the animals but to listen to them as well!
Based on the popular 1967 film with Rex Harrison and with Mark Williams, star of Father Brown, The Fast Show, 101 Dalmatians, The Borrowers, Shakespeare in Love and seven of the Harry Potter films as Doctor Dolittle – but only for the first couple of months confirmed so far.
One of the biggest problems is Mark Williams delivery. Not only does he not shine in this part, but sadly he can’t sing….he can’t even pretend to sing and I think this is critical for this commanding role.
Mark has a serenity and confidence, perfect for film, which is alluring – but I just hoped Dolittle LIVE would feel more exciting and exceptional.
Vicky Entwhistle (and her fab voice) is the perfect parrot and owns Polynesia. Utterly charming.
My favourite thing about this production is the remarkable orchestra. There’s a beautiful big sound which celebrates this timeless score.
Adele Anderson effortlessly played Poison & Mollie Melia-Redgrave has a gorgeous voice.
Patrick Sullivan arguably steals the entire show. He’s got a enchanting ‘Charlie Stemp-esk’ charm and magnetism. He’ll be big, he’s no Mugg! He shines…
So, this isn’t the review I wanted it to be. I wanted to say this was the best thing since Lion King – it couldn’t be further from that joyous heart inspring/breaking magic.
Maybe this show will find its feet, but, without better stage management and a new set I can’t see how it can survive, let alone compete with shows like Wicked, Mary Poppins or even top panto (for the same price).
Preview by Alex Belfield for Celebrity Radio 9th November 2018