Mr Popper’s Penguins tells the story of a man who dreams of Antarctic adventures only to find a penguin delivered to his front door. The children’s fantasy tale originated as a book and won Hollywood’s heart when it was turned into a film starring Jim Carrey. Pins and Needles Productions took Mr Popper’s cute penguin friends and turned their adventure into a stage show which has enjoyed runs both in the West End and Off-Broadway. The musical arrives at Waterside Sale, fresh from New York, for Christmas.
The show’s director and Co-Artistic Director of Pins and Needles Productions, Emma Earle tells us more…
It’s great to have you back at Waterside for your third Christmas show. What is it about this venue that works so well for you?
Emma: “We love the audiences at Waterside and enjoy being at the venue as much as we hope they enjoy the shows! The team at Waterside are also very helpful and friendly and all our casts have said how much they enjoyed their stay in Sale”.
Is the slumber show an idea from your company or is it from Waterside? How does it work
Emma: “It is something the venue has done for the past few Christmas shows and it is a lovely idea. Children – and adults too – are invited to come in their PJs and bring a favourite bedtime teddy to the 6pm Slumber Shows to make their theatre experience a real bedtime treat! Cookies and milk are also available to purchase”.
The 2011 film of Mr Popper’s Penguins, starring Jim Carrey, was only loosely based on Richard and Florence Atwater’s original book. For people who have read the book and/or seen the film, how does the stage show compare?
Emma: “Our adaptation is very much based on the original book, rather than the movie. Upon reading the book, we felt the story lent itself brilliantly to being reimagined on the stage. Our take on Mr Popper’s character for instance is really different to the 2011 film. In our adaptation he’s a shambolic but loveable house painter instead of a work obsessed business man with no time for his family”.
What were the challenges of bringing Mr Popper’s Penguins to the stage?
Emma: “Our biggest challenge was how to present a family of 10 penguins (8 children and two parents) on stage with only four performers!”
Can you tell us a bit about the puppets used in the show?
Emma: “We worked with Nick Barnes who designed and made the puppets to ensure that Mr and Mrs Popper feel over-run by penguins. It’s a logistical and choreographic feat!”
What is the music like in the show? Is it a musical?
“The show is a musical! Full of catchy songs and punchy lyrics, written by Luke Bateman and Richy Hughes. The cast all sing live on stage, it gives a wonderful feel to the performance”.
Is this the same production that was seen in New York?
Emma: “Yes. The show was performed at the Criterion Theatre in New York which is off Broadway. It is the same production direct from New York and the West End!”
What age range is the show aimed at?
Emma: “The show is aimed at 3-11 years but really we think that it is a show that the whole family can enjoy!”
Is there any audience interaction?
Emma: “There isn’t any audience interaction in this show”.
Have you changed anything to make it a Christmas show?
Emma: “We haven’t made any changes to the production to make it more Christmassy. It already works really well at this time of year because of our lovable, leading characters (penguins) and a snowy feeling. You can certainly expect hummable tunes, mischievous animal puppets and lots of Christmassy warmth”.