December 6th, 2012 at 5:11 pm
I knew that a trip to The Media Theatre for its production of Dr. Dolittle would be a real treat for my son, a lover of all things nature- and animal-related. Having reviewed several shows at the theatre over the past few years, I was looking forward to Artistic Director Jesse Cline’s interpretation of this classic story of a man who prefers animals to humans.
As luck would have it, the Philadelphia Zoo On Wheels was making an appearance upstairs before the show. We were able to meet Hardy, an active prehensile-tail skink; Picchu, a lovely (and vocal) blue and gold macaw; Phoebe, a shy hedgehog; and Pinky the nine-banded armadillo. After learning more about these amazing creatures and enjoying a homemade sugar cookie from the cafe, we headed into the theatre for the performance.
As Dr. Dolittle, Bill Vargus commands the stage with a stately and confidant manner that projects just the right mix of compassion (for animals) and disdain (for people). Lauren Cupples gives a strong, soulful turn as Emma Fairfax. Sean Thompson imbues his portrayal of Matthew Mugg with wonder and innocence. The blustery General Bellowes is portrayed with flair by Dan Schiff. Jef Canter is comedy perfection as opportunistic circus-owner Albert Blossom. Spirited ensemble pieces include “My Friend the Doctor,” “I’ve Never Seen Anything Like It,” and “Save the Animals.”
Playing the roles of the doctor’s furry and feathered friends in the show are members of the theatre’s Youth Ensemble. The whole menagerie—including seals, dogs, a chimp, a duck, a fox, a cow, a pig, and more—is a delight! These talented performers are a testament to the theatre’s outstanding education programs. My son was quite interested in finding out more about these young actors. Could I have a budding performer on my hands? I hope so!
Dr. Doolittle will be on stage at The Media Theatre through January 27; visit the link for showtimes and tickets. The Zoo On Wheels will be visiting the theatre before matinee performances for the next three Saturdays.
The holidays are an exciting time at The Media Theatre. A Velveteen Rabbit Christmas, part of the theatre’s children’s series, is also showing each Saturday morning at 11am through December 29 (with an additional show Friday, December 7, at 9:45am). New this year, the theatre is offering a special five-day holiday camp featuring acting, dance, and vocal lessons for kids ages 6–16, starting on December 26. The theatre is also raffling off tickets for a chance to win a trip to London valued at $12,000. Only 200 tickets will be sold (making the odds of winning far better than that Powerball lottery last week); the winner will be announced at the theatre’s annual gala, to be held February 23.
Still looking for a great holiday present? The theatre has gift cards! I can’t think of a better treat for a theatre lover or aspiring actor on your list. Or ask about purchasing an engraved gold star to be placed on the theatre’s Wall of Fame, part of the upcoming remodel of the theatre lobby. I hope you’ll join me in supporting Delaware County’s only professional theatre, and help keep the arts alive!
Note: Performance photos by Maura McConnell of Maura McConnell Photography in Media.