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
Designed by Zoe Squire
Puppet Designs by Nick Barnes
Sound by Jason Barnes
Lighting by Ric Mountjoy
For imaginative 3-year-olds and up
Runs approximately one hour, with no intermission
It is hard enough for Mr. Popper, a modest painter, to support himself and his wife, and the unexpected addition of ten 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.
Richard Holt | Mr. Popper
Romeo and Juliet
(Insane Root); A Christmas Carol
(Antic Disposition); Swallows & Amazons
(West End); Alice’s Adventures Underground
; The Game’s Afoot
(Les Enfants Terribles); Partners in Crime
(Queen’s Theatre); The Light Princess
(Tobacco Factory); and The Pillowman
(Ambassador Theatre Group). Screen work includes Theresa v Boris
(BBC); Captain Webb
(Marathon Films); RU-486
Monica Nash | Mrs. Popper
Monica trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Recent theatre credits include Dead Quiet (ImmerCity); Peter Pan (Blue Orange Theatre); and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Pleasance Theatre). Film work includes London Road (Cuba Pictures); Precious Little Things (Nightpiece Media); and she has recently played Queen Elizabeth I in The Reformation (EWTN).
Susanna Jennings | Greta, Admiral Drake, Understudy for Mrs. Popper
Susanna’s previous credits include: Little Mermaid (Pins and Needles); The Bear (Pins and Needles/Wales Millennium Centre); The Gruffalo (West End/U.S. tour); A Christmas Carol (The Tramshed); Effra Social (YouTube series); and feature films; London Wall; and Modern Life is Rubbish. Susanna is also a member of U.K. rock band Effra Social.
Twitter | @susiejennings01 & @effrasocialband
Christopher Finn | Mr. Greenbaum, Captain Cook, Understudy for Mr. Popper
Christopher has enjoyed roles in the Olivier Award-nominated Alice’s Adventures Underground
; The Giant Jam Sandwich
; and Hansel & Gretel
among many others.
He recently played the title role in the U.K. tour of Sasha Regan’s all-male production of Iolanthe
, and he has toured internationally with the Festival Players Shakespeare Company. christopherfinn.com
Oliver Byng | Understudy Captain Cook,
Mr. Greenbaum, Greta, Admiral Drake & Assistant Stage Manager
Oliver trained at East 15 Acting School. Credits include The Inheritance (Young Vic); Cinderella; Dick Whittington (Lyric Hammersmith); Macbeth (Cheltenham Everyman); Alice in Wonderland; The Wind in the Willows (Kew Gardens/Australian Shakespeare Company); NewsRevue (Canal Café); Mametz Wood (Churchill Bromley); The Tempest; A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Glastonbury Festival); and DNA (Yvonne Arnaud).
Emma Earle | Director
Emma is Co-Artistic Director of Pins and Needles Productions. Credits include Little Mermaid (Theatre Royal Bath) which won the 2018 U.K. Theatre Award for Best Show for Children and Young People; Flies and The Bear (Pleasance); Dinner at the Twits (The Vaults); Adventures in Wonderland (The Vaults/Shanghai); and Father Christmas (Lyric Hammersmith).
Luke Bateman | Composer
Luke has composed the scores for the musicals The Little Beasts; The Sorrows of Satan; Mr. Popper’s Penguins; All I Want for Christmas; and H.R.Haitch. For plays, he has composed for The Nightingales; Reel Life; Dark Tourism; The Autumn Garden; Mother Adam; On Approval; and St. John’s Night.
Richy Hughes | Lyricist
Richy’s credits include The Superhero (Southwark Playhouse) and A Song Cycle For Soho (Soho Theatre). Awards: 2018 Off-West-End Award for Best New Musical (The Superhero), Stiles and Drewe Prize (“Don’t Look Down” from The Superhero), and the 2017 Xmas Factor All Stars Prize for Best New Christmas Song (“The Beautiful Game”). Richy is a member of the BOOK Music & Lyrics Workshop, London.
Zoe Squire | Scenic and Costume Designer
Zoe is Co-Artistic Director of Pins and Needles Productions. She has designed several award-winning productions including Little Mermaid (Theatre Royal Bath); Ernest and the Pale Moon (Edinburgh and U.K. tours); and Helver’s Night (York Theatre Royal). She adapted and designed Mr. Popper’s Penguins (New York and West End) and is currently designing a new adaptation of The Scarlet Pimpernel (the egg).
Nick Barnes | Puppet Designer
Nick lives and works in Hove, England. He runs a puppet-making studio, designing and making puppets for theatre and film. In 2012, he co-directed the puppetry in Danny Boyle’s spectacular opening ceremony for the London Olympic Games. Recent credits include Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax (The Old Vic, CTC, and The Old Globe tour), Dr. Dolittle (U.K. Tour), and a major project for Disneyland Paris.
Jason Barnes | Sound Designer
Jason has worked in theatre in the U.K. and internationally for the last 20 years. He is currently Project Director and Theatre Consultant for Plann. Sound designs include: The Nightingales (U.K. Tour); Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Kenny Wax Family Entertainment); An Elephant in the Garden (Poonamallee Productions); We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (U.K. and international tours); and Private Peaceful (U.K. and international tours).
Ric Mountjoy | Lighting Designer
Ric’s lighting has been seen worldwide: in Singapore, Seoul, Beijing, Seattle, Dubai, Bahrain, and most significantly, in London and New York. He is best known for The Play that Goes Wrong (Broadway, the West End). His work for young audiences includes Little Mermaid and What the Ladybird Heard.
Emma Eldridge-Doyle | Company Stage Manager
Originally from Australia, Emma trained at Hot House Theatre, before making the move to the U.K. in 2014. Emma has been working as a Company Stage Manager for Kenny Wax Family Entertainment for the last couple of years, touring both nationally and internationally to Asia and the Middle East. Emma also worked as a Stage Manager for I Believe in Unicorns with Wizard’s Presents and The Gruffalo with Tall Stories.
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.
Caution: This is a complete synopsis of the play, so it is full of spoilers.
Polar Explorer, Admiral Drake, begins the show with a radio broadcast from the bottom of the world. We hear about his expedition to the South Pole. Meanwhile, in the small town of Stillwater, Mr. Popper is getting ready to leave for his job as a house painter. On his way, he greets many townspeople. Mr. Popper has an active imagination and while he is working, the color of his paints inspire his daydreams about traveling around the world. He laments that at the end of the day, he is still in Stillwater.
Back at the Popper house, Mr. Popper is reading a book about Arctic adventures. Mr. Popper loves to learn about the arctic through books, movies, and Admiral Drake’s radio broadcast from Antarctica. This evening, Mr. and 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. The penguin is clearly nervous and upset about being in a new environment and causes quite a mess by jumping on the couch, knocking over furniture, and eating the pet goldfish. 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, the penguin is still causing quite the commotion and destroying everything in sight. Mr. Popper decides to take Captain Cook out for a stroll around the town. Mr. Popper’s new pet confuses the residents of Stillwater and they mistake him for many different animals. A balloon seller gives the penguin a balloon which causes him to float into the air. Captain Cook upsets a baby when he jumps onto a baby carriage and the police are called. The police officer instructs Mr. Popper to keep his new pet on a leash and get a penguin license. Mr. Popper quickly learns that it is not easy to obtain a penguin license and gives up.
Mr. and Mrs. Popper begin to notice that Captain Cook does not seem happy. He will not eat and has fallen ill due to the warm weather. They try to take him to the vet who explains that penguins just aren’t meant for the climate of Stillwater. The vet encourages them to wrap him in ice packs but fears that the penguin might die. They nurse him back to health as best they can, but write to famous explorers 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. The two penguins are too big to both fit in the refrigerator so Mr. Popper decides to open all of the windows to make the entire house cold like the Arctic. Mrs. Popper is not fond of this idea. The Popper’s begin to wonder what Greta and Captain Cook are saying to each other and sing a love song. Before long, the entire house has been transformed into a winter wonderland complete with an ice skating rink.
Greta & Captain Cook are inseparable and before long, Greta lays eggs- eight eggs! They name the newest additions after famous explorers. The baby chicks grow at a tremendous rate and the more they grow, the more they eat! The Poppers 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 the penguins 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. The penguins walk on a giant ball, lift dumbbells, and perform acrobatics. You truly have never seen a show like Mr. Popper’s Performing Penguins.
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, so he 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 because of Mrs. Popper, but sees that she 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 and becomes sick. They fear he might die. Greta lays eggs.
Violence & Scariness: 0 out of 5 stars
Sensory Advisories: 1 out of 5 stars
Musical numbers can be loud. Snow falls over the audience.
Potentially Anxious Moments: 1 out of 5 stars
Captain Cook feels lonely. Captain Cook eats the pet fish. Mr. and Mrs. Popper feel financially strained.
Concessions items can be pre-ordered for the intermission of your performance by visiting the Concessions Stand during pre-show of your performance.
The Concessions Stand opens one hour prior to the start of the performance and will remain open until 15 minutes after the performance concludes.
Beer and Wine can only be purchased by an adult over the age of 21 with a valid government issued ID. We will sell one drink per adult with valid ID at a time and a maximum of two drinks per adult with valid ID per performance. Beer and Wine will be available for sale to patrons attending the current performance at Children's Theatre Company when the Concessions Stand open for pre-show sales and will cease approximately 30 minutes prior to the end of the performance.