REVIEW – Mr Popper’s Penguins (The Lowry, Salford)

 © Copyright Helen Murray 2015
© Copyright Helen Murray 2015
Upstaged Rating: 

Adapted from popular children’s book by Richard and Florence Atwater, Mr Popper’s Penguins is a festive theatrical treat for all of the family. The story proved its popularity back in 2011 when it was released as a feature film with Jim Carrey taking the title role. With music reminiscent of golden era MGM, romance and charming penguin puppetry, Mr Popper’s Penguins certainly lends itself brilliantly to being adapted as a musical for the stage.

Mr Popper (Russell Morton) is a painter and decorator and lives with Mrs Popper (Roxanne Palmer) in a small American suburb called Stillwater. Nothing really happens in Stillwater and Mr Popper has dreams of being an explorer in Antartica. Fascinated with the South Pole, spending every spare moment reading about it – he decides to pen a letter to his idol Admiral Drake, to tell him how wonderful he thinks penguins are.

Soon after Admiral Drake responds to the mailing by sending a huge penguin-sized crate by return – Mr and Mrs Popper’s predictable daily life takes a sudden but exciting change as they soon find themselves chasing a rookery of penguins around their home.

A super talented cast of four tell the succinct and highly entertaining story well – with performers Toby Manley and Lucy Grattan doubling up as puppeteers for the mischievous penguins Captain Cook and Greta, designed by Nick Barnes. Musical numbers composed by Luke Bateman and written by Richy Hughes are catchy and appeal to the young audience; there is a magical snow shower and a penguin dance that the whole auditorium can get involved with too.

Recommended for ages 3 and over, Mr Popper’s Penguins has the perfect running time of 55 minutes – just long enough to keep those creative little minds transfixed. If you look below the funny feathery surface there is also quite a heartwarming message for you to take away too  – the importance of having dreams and how something totally unexpected can suddenly land and change the course of your life forever.

Mr Popper’s Penguins is a gorgeous family show and guaranteed to warm your cockles this winter.
-Kristy Stott

 Mr Popper’s Penguins runs at the Lowry in Salford until 10 January 2016.