Rainhill Musical Theatre Company Youth’s latest production, under the direction of Tom Cain, is based on the original 1920 Dr Doolittle stories by Hugh Lofting, and with the assistance of Choreographer Kirsty Higgins and Musical Director Wayne Oakes, takes us on a journey from the small English village of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh to the far corners of the world.
When wacky but kind Doctor Doolittle (Aaron Savage) decides he’s going to learn to talk to animals, friends Madeline Mugg (Eden Brennan) and Tommy Stubbins (Ella Andrews) are in disbelief but with parrot Polynesia (Poppy Trigwell) leading the lessons, it’s only a matter of time before he’s getting to grips with what’s ailing Jip the Dog (Marina Forshaw), Toggle the Horse (Emily Greenough), Sheila the Fox (Mandy Roberts), and Dab Dab the Duck (Celine Shaw) amongst others, much to the consternation of General Bellowes (Liam Spencer).
But if he’s going to make a real difference he needs to raise some funds so with the gift of a Pushmi Pullyu Llama (Leanne McCartney), he links up with Albert Blossom’s (Millie Sutton) circus complete with bearded lady Gertie Blossom (Matilda Wetton). The General’s niece, Emma Fairfax (Maisie Riley) is less convinced and when he attempts to help a seal named Sophie (Darcy Trigwell), he’s wrongly accused of murder and stands trial!
With the help of his friends and Chee Chee the Monkey (Alfie Shaw) he is able to make his escape on the General’s boat and pursue his quest for the Great Pink Sea Snail (Greenough) – the oldest and wisest of the creatures on earth. Will he find it? Will he ever be able to return? And why is Emma Fairfax now beginning to look at him in a different kind of way? You’ll have to watch and see!
This was a fun and entertaining production with a lot of young local talent on show. Both Principal and Ensemble casts sang and performed well with great choreography on show in the numerous routines that pepper the production and an array of composed performances in some fantastic costumes made by stalwarts from the adult company.
The casting was well considered with everyone, including from the ensemble, having a chance to come to the fore, and they all rose to the occasion: there’s no tougher audience than one containing friends and family and they have every reason to be proud of the stars that shone on stage today.
Savage and Spencer had real presence in their lead roles, both capturing the idiosyncrasies of their characters perfectly and performing strongly.
Brennan and Andrews gave a confident introduction and performed well in unison in both song and dance throughout.
Polly Trigwell was as bright as the parrot she portrayed, whilst Sutton brought us all to attention and kept us in good order, with Riley delivering an accomplished overall performance and a voice to listen out for.
The ensemble, playing a multitude of roles, delightfully brought each scene to life and kept the action turning with great routines.
The original work may be over one hundred years old but the issues it touches upon are very much of the now and these are the generation who are going to have overhaul the way we have been living to date. They are also the future of musical theatre and on the basis of what was on offer today, we are in safe hands.
Reviewer: Mark Davoren
Reviewed: 10th April 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★