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  • Info
  • Performance Description
  • Plot Synopsis
  • Content Advisories
  • Student Matinee Schedule
  • 2018 – 2019 Ticket Prices
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  • Curriculum Connections

Presented by Children’s Theatre Company in association with Kenny Wax Family Entertainment and TC Beech
Based on the novel by Richard and Florence Atwater
Adapted for the stage by Pins and Needles Productions
Music by Luke Bateman
Lyrics by Richy Hughes
Directed by Emma Earle
For imaginative 4-year-olds and up

It is hard enough for Mr. Popper, a modest painter, to support himself and his family, and the unexpected addition of twelve penguins makes it even tougher. But then! The imaginative Popper turns his talented penguins into a traveling vaudeville act. They sing! They dance! They become a theatrical sensation and give a must-see Penguiny performance! Applause! Applause! This play shows you a wild and witty way to follow your dreams.

Performance Description

Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a musical production performed by a small group of adult actors and puppets. This show was created by Pins & Needles Productions. It is based on the Newbery Honor book by Richard & Florence Atwater.

This production takes place on our UnitedHealth Group stage and seats up to 745 people per performance.

Approximate run time: 1 hour without an intermission.

Run time and other details are subject to change during rehearsal process.

Plot Synopsis
Caution: This is a complete synopsis of the play, so it is full of spoilers.

In the small town of Stillwater, Mr. Popper is finishing up his final job of the summer as a house painter. Mr. Popper has a large imagination and dreams of adventures at the South Pole. He is reading a book about penguins and listens to Admiral Drake’s radio broadcast from Antarctica every week. This evening, Mr. & Mrs Popper are listening to the radio broadcast together when Admiral Drake addresses Mr. Popper directly from the radio. Admiral Drake announces that he has sent Mr. Popper a special surprise.

Just then, the doorbell rings. Inside a package is a real, live penguin. Mr. Popper decides to name him Captain Cook. Mrs. Popper is nervous about having a penguin as a pet but decides it is okay as long as the penguin follows the rules. Captain Cook makes the fridge his bedroom where it is nice and cold.

The next day, Mr. Popper decides to take Captain Cook out for a stroll around the town. Mr. Popper’s new pet confuses the residents of Stillwater.

Mr. & Mrs. Popper begin to notice that Captain Cook does not seem happy. He will not eat and has fallen ill. They try to nurse him back to health as best they can, but write to Admiral Drake for help. The London Zoo ends up hearing the news of Captain Cook and they send Greta, another penguin suffering from loneliness, to live with the Poppers. Greta does the trick and Captain Cook bounces back in no time.

Winter is setting in and the penguins enjoy the change in climate. Greta & Captain Cook are inseparable and before long, Greta lays eggs. The Poppers worry that their house will not be big enough for all these chicks. They begin to suffer the financial strain of providing large amounts of fish every day for them to eat. Mr. Popper needs to find ways to generate more family income and decides to put the penguins to work in his painting business. The penguins spend more time playing than helping and Mr. Popper has to come up with another plan to keep them busy and increase their income. Mr. Popper schedules them an audition with a theatre producer and the penguins are hired to go out on tour.

Admiral Drake decides to pop by for a visit and has a chance to see the penguins’ performance. At the end of the night, Admiral Drake breaks the news that it is time for the penguins to go back home to their natural habitat. Mr. Popper is sad but understands that this is what is best. Mr. Popper begins to say a tearful goodbye. Admiral Drake is surprised because he expected Mr. Popper to come with them. Mr. Popper begins to explain that he can’t leave home, but sees that Mrs. Popper is already onboard! They all travel to Antarctica for a fabulous adventure.

Content Advisories (subject to change as the production goes into rehearsal):

Language: 0 out of 5 stars

Themes and Situations: 1 out of 5 stars
Captain Cook feels lonely. Greta lays eggs.

Violence & Scariness: 0 out of 5 stars

Sensory Advisories: 1 out of 5 stars
Musical numbers can be loud.

Potentially Anxious Moments: 1 out of 5 stars
Captain Cook feels lonely. Mr & Mrs Popper feel financially strained.

Mr. Popper's Penguins
Student Matinee Pricing Guide


Trying New Things Collaboration Exploration
Perseverance Friendship Adventure
Family Conservation Daydreaming

Curriculum Connections

Arctic Animals Creative & Critical Thinking Environment
Arctic Climate World Explorers Variety Shows/Vaudeville
Letter Writing Depression Era America Literature & Adaptations
Rhyme & Rhythm Animal Adaptations & Environment Predator & Prey
Maps & Globes Puppets Compare & Contrast
Animal Classification    


Antarctica Arctic Curiosity
Dedication Determination Explorer
Unique Novelty Voyage
Plummet Unfurled Summit
Inhabited Continent Bloomers
Flippers Quaint Promenade
Eccentric Navigation Mayday

Minnesota State Benchmarks




Speaking & Listening





Artistic Foundations
Theatre, Music, & Dance

Benchmark 1, Benchmark 2, Benchmark 3.2

Artistic Process: Create or Make
Theatre, Music, & Dance

Benchmark 1

Artistic Process: Perform or Present
Theatre, Music, & Dance

Benchmark 1

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