Mr Popper’s Penguins – Rose Theatre, Kingston

Writer: Richard and Florence Atwater (adapted by Pins and Needles Productions)
Director: Emma Earle
Composer: Luke Bateman
Lyrics: Richy Hughes
Reviewer: Ann Bawtree


Based on the popular children’s book which has already been made into a film, this new, musical version of Mr Popper’s Penguins is a delight. As always, for a visit to a show designed specifically for young children, the scene in the theatre foyer is chaos and the noise levels probably a danger to health. However, the hushed silence of anticipation when the lights go down and the curtain goes up is never short of magical.

And this, of course, is a magical tale. Mr Popper, a quiet working man with a secret ambition, to travel to Antarctica, is sent a penguin as a pet by a well-wisher. Named Captain Cook in honour of the famous explorer, another penguin, Greta, is obtained “just to keep him company” with the inevitable consequence, baby penguins everywhere.

The imaginative Mr Popper devises a scheme whereby the whole brood earns their keep and the rest of the action is taken up with its development. Naturally their efforts are crowned with success but not before the audience is rocking with joy filled laughter.

Much is successfully left to the imagination. Scenes are set simply by the placing of a couple of chairs, a table lamp, a movable window while the action is completed with song. Mr and Mrs Pepper are played by Russell Morton and Roxanne Palmer. Toby Manley doubles as Captain Cook and Mr Greenbaum, the impresario who provides the opportunity for success. Lucy Grattan also plays two parts, Greta and Admiral Drake, the original penguin donor.

The tension mounts until, relieved by the happy, potentially adventurous ending, the audience rises from the seats and dances in the falling snow.

Runs until 17 January 2016 | Image: Contributed




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