THEATER | DANCE | CLASSICAL MUSIC | OPERA | COMEDY

NORTH TEXAS PERFORMING ARTS NEWS

REVIEWS

<em>Mr. Popper\'s Penguins</em>&nbsp;at Casa Ma&ntilde;ana Children\'s Theatre

Review: Mr. Popper's Penguins | Casa Manana | Casa Manana Theatre


Fun in Black and White

At Casa Mañana Children's Theatre, the regional premiere of Mr. Popper's Penguins keeps the little ones, and the adults, thoroughly entertained.



published Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Photo: Helen Murray
Mr. Popper\'s Penguins at Casa Mañana Children\'s Theatre
Photo: Helen Murray
Mr. Popper\'s Penguins at Casa Mañana Children\'s Theatre

 

Fort Worth — Intensive planning. Rations painstakingly portioned out. Proper attire laid out with special attention paid to temperature needs. While some would consider this the start of an epic journey, every parent knows it’s simply the process to prepare for a trip with small children. Some days, I find myself questioning if the destination is worth the trouble. Luckily, Casa Mañana knows just how to make a theatrical experience for you and your children entertaining and easy.

Their most recent production of the regional premiere of Mr. Popper’s Penguins is no exception. Based on the delightful 1930’s children’s story by Richard and Florence Atwater, this musical, which premiered in London in 2016 and was in New York later that year, was adapted for the stage by Pins and Needles Productions with original music by Luke Bateman and lyrics by Richy Hughes. (There was a 2011 movie with Jim Carrey, but it changed the story.)

It is irresistibly enchanting for children of all ages. Trekking into the dome, the scenery and stage dressing are reminiscent of a child’s playroom filled with bits of this and that to create everything from an Antarctic glacier to a small-town streetscape. My six-year-old critic desired nothing more than to go and see if they were going to light up the framed scrim upstage. (Spoiler alert: They do!). Director Noah Putterman knew just what toys to lay out to allow four actors to play all the characters in the play—including the penguins! Thoughtfully mastered from the first note of the overture, we were swept into the imagination of Mr. Popper (Kirk Bixby) through a gasp inducing glimpse of his idea of an arctic adventure.

And what an imagination! Bixby delights in the opening number as we see that the painting Mr. Popper has a love of all things Antarctic. Although the town and Mrs. Popper (Amanda Joy Loth) don’t initially share his zeal, they can’t help but be won over when an explorer sends the Poppers their very own penguin, Captain Cook. Through musical numbers, Bixby and Loth delight the adults in the audience as their comfortable relationship becomes a loving partnership. My two-year-old critic found the penguin puppets, designed for the London production by Nick Barnes, utterly delightful. After all, they are the same size as she is!  The “Penguin Promenade” left the audience members in giggles as Mr. Popper attempted to explain walking a penguin to the townsfolk of Stillwater.

The show’s appeal extends to audience members of all ages. Actors 3 and 4, played by Rasheem Ford and Kelly Blaze, round out the cast and remain in constant motion throughout the show as they portray townspeople, explorers, and others. This well-oiled machine of a production moves from one moment to the next like lightening captivating the young audience members’ attention while still infusing warmth and love into the story. Captain Cook’s first exploration of the Popper’s home will leave you gasping with laughter as all four actors juggle furniture, a penguin puppet, and a goldfish.

Parents, prepare to smile wistfully as the Poppers reflect upon the changes brought into their life by their little charges. Curious, captivating, and cuddly, the penguins make the Popper house a home and infuse a warmth and love into their lives that they didn’t even know they were missing. Mr. Popper’s brilliant idea to train the penguins for show business lends itself to a fantastic number with all penguins in play and gives Ford a wonderful chance to shine as the production manager.

The closing number brings the entire audience to its feet as you learn what it means to be a “Proper Popper Penguin.” Both my two-year-old critic and my six-year-old critic loved the dance and have taught it to all their friends. Parents will leave the theater humming.

The costumes (Tammy Spencer) reflectively reminded us that this is the story of a bygone era, and the lighting (Samuel Rushen) was a crucial piece in setting the tone and locale of the fast-paced show. And just you wait for the children’s reactions to the penguins!

No production is perfect, and I would like to see the sound tweaked a bit. There were several times where the audience was left straining to understand the words of the songs as they were drowned out by the orchestration, leading to confused little voices missing more as they asked for clarification. Something else to keep in mind, your tiniest theatergoers may need a boost to be able to sit in their own chair and watch the action on stage. Luckily, my purse was up to the task of cushion for my two year old.

Still, as my favorite recurring character the intrepid explorer Drake (Blaze) soulfully decreed, “It’s amazing what patience and training can do.” As it has for generations, Casa Mañana knows how to roll out the red carpet for children. Do yourself a favor:  snap a picture with your little critics in front of the oversized show poster in the lobby. Share it to social media with the hashtag #CasaPenguins. You’ll want this memory in your Timehop, and you’ll want your friends to share in it, too. Mr. Popper’s Penguins is definitely worth the trip.

Following its run at Casa Mañana, this production of Mr. Popper’s Penguins will depart for the First National Tour, traveling from coast to coast with a two-week run at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. over the Christmas holiday. Thanks For Reading





Dates, Prices, & Other Details

View the Article Slideshow

Comment on this Article

Share this article on Social Media
Click or Swipe to close
Fun in Black and White
At Casa Mañana Children's Theatre, the regional premiere of Mr. Popper's Penguins keeps the little ones, and the adults, thoroughly entertained.
by Lark Wallis-Johnston

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
An Act Of God Circle Theatre CCBT Lone Star Circus Black Nativity Watertower Theatre Fade Uptown Players UNT Dance and Theatre Margo Jones Holiday Open Classicial Plaid Tidings Dallas Opera Dallas Opera
Hear Here
Click or Swipe to close
reviews
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
audiocasts
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
contests
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
crowdfunding
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
studio
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web



Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:


Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:


TheaterJones Section:


Category:
Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Search
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  



Your Name:
Your Email Adress:


please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :
Submit