Kenny Wax Family Entertainment & TC Beech present Mr Popper’s Penguins, based on the Novel by Richard and Florence Atwater and 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; Lighting Design by Ric Mountjoy; Sound Design Jason Barnes
The producer of The Tiger Who Came to Tea, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Hetty Feather and What the Ladybird Heard today announces the world première of brand new family musical Mr Popper’s Penguins which is making a splash this winter touring around the country from November 2015 to January 2016. Mr Popper and his Penguins will be hopping off to various locations, opening at the Theatre Royal Brighton on Thursday 26 November. The tour continues on to Malvern Theatre and London’s Cadogan Hall before settling in at the Lowry Salford for a glittering Christmas season from Thursday 10 December to Sunday 10 January. The tour is completed with a run at Rose Theatre Kingston from Thursday 14th January to Sunday 17th January, 2016
Emma Earle directs Russell Morton (Mr Popper), Roxanne Palmer (Mrs Popper), Lucy Grattan (Female Puppeteer), Toby Manley (Male Puppeteer) and Benedict Chambers (Understudy/ASM).
Painter and decorator by day, Mr Popper dreams of Antarctic adventures. He is astounded when one day a packing crate arrives on his doorstep, out of which waddles a penguin! With original songs and puppetry that bring life to a remarkable family of performing penguins, this delightful musical adaptation of Richard and Florence Atwater’s popular book (also made into a Hollywood film starring Jim Carrey) is an unmissable treat this winter.
Russell Morton plays Mr Popper. His recent theatre credits include As Is (Trafalgar Studios), Molly Wobbly and Spike Milligan’s Puckoon (Leicester Square Theatre), Alice in Wonderland (Bolton Octagon), Piaf (Leicester Curve), Once upon a Christmas (Covent Garden), Sweet Smell of Success & The Cradle Will Rock (Arcola Theatre), You Once Said Yes (Roundhouse London), Not Another Musical (Latitude), Bent (Landor/Tabbard), Poppy’s Promise (Union Theatre), Hedda Gabler (Barons Court). Television credits include Young Doctors and Urban Legends. Russell is also a writer, voice-over artist and a member of comedy troupe Jam Sponge Comedy.
Mr Popper’s Penguins behind the scenes
Roxanne Palmer plays Mrs Popper. Her West End theatre credits include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Legally Blonde the Musical and Viva Forever. Palmer has also worked extensively for mask theatre company Strangeface. Credits with Strangeface include The Last Resort, A Christmas Carol and Pinocchio. She also writes and performs her own sketches on her YouTube channel MissBizUK.
Lucy Grattan (Female Puppeteer). Her theatre credits include Bell Weather (Curious Directive), Much Ado About Nothing (Reading Between the Lines), Birdsong (No.1 National Tour), Lobsters (PEEP at Latitude Festival/Assembly, Edinburgh Fringe), Sam Rose in the Shadows (Bedlam Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe/Greenwich Theatre), Hag (Bristol Old Vic), Superjohn (Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh Fringe), ‘Ave It (Old Vic Tunnels), Visions of Kerouac (Half Moon), Drunk Enough To Say I Love You (Arch 468) and Where The Air is Perfect (Latitude Festival/Theatre 503); and for film, The Boat That Rocked.
Toby Manley (Male Puppeteer). His theatre credits include Alice’s Adventures Underground (The Vaults, Waterloo), The Love Project (Every Day Productions), Once Upon A Christmas, Above And Beyond, You Once Said Yes, Nola, The Caravan (Look Left Look Right), 21 Breaths (Little Pieces of Gold/Park Theatre), Early Days (Five Wits/The Finborough), Love Re-imagined (Only Connect), Short Plays By Joel Horwood (Kristopher Milnes Productions/Soho Theatre) and Accomplice: London (Menier Chocolate Factory). For television his credits include Siblings, Enid, and Identity; and for film, Electric Man and Dating Eliza.
Emma Earle directs. She is Co-Artistic Director of Pins and Needles Productions and has directed all their shows to date including the UK premières of Raymond Briggs’ The Bear (Polka Theatre, The Albany and touring in 2016) and Father Christmas (West Yorkshire Playhouse and Lyric Hammersmith – remounted Christmas 2015 for its 4th consecutive year). Further credits include Scoop (Lyric Hammersmith, Latitude and touring), Flies, Gizmo Love and The Elves and the Shoemakers (Tobacco Factory), Holly and Ivan’s Christmas Adventure (Lyric Hammersmith), Select A Quest (Bristol Old Vic, Ferment), and Ernest and the Pale Moon (tour). Earle is an Associate Director of Les Enfants Terribles Theatre Company where her credits include Adventures in Wonderland (The Vaults, Waterloo), The Marvellous Imaginary Menagerie and Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs (Edinburgh and tour), Anyone For Tea (Latitude and tour) and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (Old Vic Tunnels). Emma is also an Associate Artist of the egg, Theatre Royal Bath where her productions include The Grapes of Wrath, Riot and Beasts and Beauties and for the Ustinov Studio Glengarry Glen Ross and The Shape of Things.
Luke Bateman (Composer). Current musicals in development include The Little Beasts, The Sorrows of Satan and Personality based on the Andrew O’Hagan novel of the same name. Previous credits for plays and musicals include Dark Tourism (Park Theatre), Mother Adam, On Approval and St John’s Night (Jermyn Street Theatre) and All I Want for Christmas (Upstairs at the Gatehouse & Jermyn Street Theatre). His arrangements include West End Recast (Duke of York’s Theatre), West End Recast 2 (Phoenix Theatre) and two arrangements for the Sarah Brightman Album Classics with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He was a company member and Assistant MD in A Chorus of Disapproval directed by Trevor Nunn (Harold Pinter Theatre). He had three award-winning songs with Mary Evans: My Sexual, Christmas Swapping, and The Christmas Table. For The Sun, he produced the 2010 World Cup song If I Can Dream featuring Terry Venables, Ian Wright, Harry Redknapp, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Bateman is a founding member of the Book, Music, and Lyrics (BML) workshop.
Richy Hughes (Lyricist). Hughes learnt his craft for lyric writing at The Book, Music and Lyrics (BML) Workshop in London. He has contributed songs to A Song Cycle for Soho, (Soho Theatre) and Mercury Musical Development’s 25th Anniversary Gala (Novello Theatre). He is currently working with composer Joseph Finlay and librettist Michael Conley on The Superhero, a mono-musical that follows one man’s journey through the family courts as he fights to maintain contact with his daughter. His song ‘Don’t Look Down,’ from the show won this year’s Stiles and Drewe Prize (in association with The Stephen Sondheim Society) for Best New Musical Theatre Song of the Year. His comic parodies of popular songs have had over half a million YouTube hits.
Nick Barnes (Puppet Designer). Until recently he was joint Artistic Director of the puppetry company Blind Summit Theatre, which he co-founded to make new shows with puppets for adult audiences. He designed and made puppets and performed for Blind Summit, whose own productions include Mr. China’s Son, The Spaceman, Low Life, Call of the Wild, 1984, The Heads and The Table – which has won many awards and continues to be invited to festivals around the world. Collaborations include Madame Butterfly (ENO, Metropolitan Opera, Anthony Minghella), A Dog’s Heart (ENO/DNO), Shunkin and Master and Margarita (Complicite), El Gato Con Botas (Tectonic Theatre, Moises Kaufman), On Emotion (Mick Gordon), Faeries (Royal Opera House, Will Tuckett), His Dark Materials (Birmingham Rep/West Yorkshire Playhouse), Kommilitonen! (Royal Academy of Music, David Poutney). In 2012 Blind Summit oversaw the puppetry in Danny Boyle’s spectacular opening ceremony for the Olympic Games. Most recently he was Associate Puppet Designer for the Chichester Festival Theatre production of Running Wild and created a spectacular Firebird for the BBC Ten Pieces promenade concert at the Royal Albert Hall. He is currently designing puppets for The Lorax at the Old Vic.
Pins and Needles Productions was formed in 2009 by Emma Earle and Zoe Squire who met while training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. For more information about Pins and Needles visit www.pinsandneedlesproductions.co.uk