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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Dancer/director Tommy Tune is more than tapping toes and a megawatt smile. Now an incredible 66 years old and 6'6" tall, he fully inhabits with warmth and authority the character of the village veterinarian who doesn't get along with people but loves animals.
Tune has also staged the production, which has been struggling to be a stage success for years. Using the successful music from Leslie Bricusse's 1967 Oscar-winning movie with a new book by Lee Tannen, Tune went back to Hugh Lofting's novels and sculpted a bright smooth 90-minute intermissionless musical with lots of dancing and special effects. It's very leisurely and 19th century which may or may not bother its target tot audience.
The stories Tune selected are the gift of the Pushmi/Pullyu, a two-headed llama who uses one head for talking and one for eating, so he can talk with his mouth full. The llama wants to join the circus, an opportunity for an imaginative dance number. Next Dolittle and his animal crew set sail in search of the Giant Snail, Jean-Pierre, which, along with the Giant Lunar Moth, are the two major special effects and they are everything a little heart could desire.
Dona Granata designed the colorful authentic animal costumes, as well as smashing ensembles for Tune and his leading lady, Dee Hoty, who plays Lady Emma Fairfax. With a high-crowned hat and heels, she looks only about a foot shorter than Tune and provides a rich, vibrant voice for their duets.
Tune's voice is pleasant and very expressive, making a seamless transition between spoken and sung words. He's ably seconded by a robust Joel Blum as Blossom, owner of the circus. Outstanding animal soprano is that of Polynesia, the parrot, manipulated and voiced by Sarah Stiles. As well as tap, Patti Colombo's choreography includes waltzes in appropriate 19th century rhythm This should be a crowd-pleaser for kids of all ages.
The Internet Theatre Bookshop "Virtually Every Play in the World" --even out of print plays