"Doctor Dolittle," the Stage Musical (1998-99)-- This show, which played London's West End for a year, is a theatrical adaptation by Leslie Bricusse of his own 1967 movie musical. A UK touring version followed, and though I confess to finding it hard to imagine their taking that $6 million extravaganza I saw in London on the road, I envy those who had the opportunity to see it in their local theatres! Immense and beautiful, with realistic animatronic animals by Jim Henson's Creature Shop, the original production starred Philip Schofield as the Doctor and featured the recorded voice of Julie Andrews (!) as Polynesia the parrot. In terms of content, the stage adaptation retains almost everything from the film, including Dolittle love-interest Emma Fairfax; only the Sea Star Island natives have been completely re-imagined. Bricusse has also made an effort to correct some of the movie's defects (the slow second act, the abrupt ending, the unfinished romance), both adding a couple of new musical numbers and restoring some lovely ones from the original score which ended up on the cutting room floor in '67. And the result? Definitely something this American hopes will tour the US someday, perhaps as a star vehicle for someone.
More to come...