File puptcrit/puptcrit.0602, message 208

Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2006 18:53:35 GMT
Subject: [Puptcrit] Dr Dolittle puppets with Tommy Tune on tour

Through March 5 at the Pantages Theatre in Holllywood CA, Tommy Tune stars in touring musical, "Dr Dolittle", using songs from the Rex Harrison movie version, notably "Talk to the Animals". Those familiar with the children's books which were very popular during my early school days, may wonder as I did, why there were so few animals in the show. Well, , a lot of people dressed as monkeys plus 5 puppet characters (2 seals, one parrot, a very mop-like dog and a pig) plus a 2-actor horse and a 2-actor Pushme Pulyu.

But since Dolittle professes to speak many, many animal languages, more animals would be fitting. There is a large 2-D giraffe head/neck figure which appears several times, which does not exactly fit visually with the dimensional figures.

The show is about 90 minues long. In a local TV interview, Tommy Tune said it is meant for kids, and there were many in the audience. But the dance numbers could all be shortened. The story lines are episodic, not a lot of drama--instead, things just sort of "happen". A lesson from Disney could help---maybe some subtext with more cute animals as in SNOW WHITE and BAMBI (that sure worked for me as a kid).

I was bothered that Tommy had no English accent of any kind, while the "irritating aristocrat neighbor" whom Dolittle finally marries did (she had qualities of Anna of Siam's King).---Emma is nicely portrayed by Dee Hoty, and wears attractive costumes as does Tommy. Some of the general cast costumes get a bit hokey with odd colors (the L.A. Times called the costumes "eye candy"), and the general cast  choreography tends to clumpiness, tho the head monkey gets a spotlight. 

The show has undergone considerable revamping, but it isn't "there" yet. Still, it has great sets, lighting in Hollywood was excellent, and Tommy milks his Texas charm and I was glad I got to check it out. 
Both some enjoyable moments and disappointments--could use more revamping to reach real success.

The Rex Harrison movie version was not a great hit, and the talking Dr Dolittle doll (pull string at back of neck) was a bomb in toy stores which is why now on e-bay it is "rare".
Next stops: San Diego March 7-12 and Costa Mesa CA March 21-April 2.

After the show, Tommy sells color lithos at $20 a pop, of a bevy of animals including elephants, bunnies and other critters which SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE SHOW. 

The few puppets generally worked well, but the moppy dog movements were sloppy, perhaps because of its construction.


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