When Dr. Dolittle travels the globe in search of the Great Sea Snail this holiday season at The Media Theatre, November 20 through January 27, he will have plenty of assistance from a group of talented young actors. Students of the theatre's New School, a conservatory-style approach to music theatre education, will appear alongside the kind but eccentric doctor in the production.
Dr. Dolittle is the Leslie Bricusse musical based on the classic 1968 Rex Harrison film and the Hugh Lofting stories regarding a veterinarian who learns how to speak to animals, discovering that every creature on the planet is worthy of respect and proper care.
Bill Vargus, a popular Philadelphia sportscaster and actor, portrays the title role in his professional music theatre debut. The musical is directed by Artistic Director Jesse Cline, who instructs the New School along with resident Music Director Tom Fosnocht and choreographer Victoria Mayo.
"Performing alongside professional actors gives the students a unique perspective," Cline explained. "They are able to utilize what they learn in class and apply it to their performance."
In Dr. Dolittle, most of the young actors portray animals of all shapes and sizes. Two of them, Philadelphia's Sadat Waddy and Springfield's Michael Wells, play the role of Tommy Stubbins. Tommy is a boy who takes an injured duck to the doctor and becomes his friend, traveling around the globe with him and learning about animals. They will play the role on a rotating basis, sharing the spotlight.
"Each young actor brings a defining quality to the role of Tommy that is distinctly their own," Cline explained. "They have found the core of this role individually, so that it's played differently yet still maintains the essence of who Tommy is. It will be very exciting for audiences."
Other youth cast members are: Katheryn Cooper of Glen Mills, Katey Davis of Bryn Mawr, Amber Duncan of Wallingford, Elaina and Justin Fitzgerald of Media, Owen Mannion of Broomall, Shawna McHugh of Spring City, Kurtis Morency of Philadelphia, Fiona Moser of Havertown, Amir Newtown of Philadelphia, Sean O' Neill of Wallingford and Kristiana Ranalli of Middletown.
To purchase tickets to the region's professional premiere of Dr. Dolittle, or for showtimes and information, visit www.mediatheatre.org or call 610-891-0100. The Media Theatre's Acting Classes for Children, Teens, and Adults begin again the weekend of January 5.
Pictured: The youth cast of The Media Theatre's Dr. Dolittle. Front row: Amir Newton, Michael Wells, Kristianna Ranalli, Sean O' Neill.
Middle: Elaina Fitzgerald, Fiona Moser, Kurtis Morency, Katheryn Cooper, Justin Fitzgerald, Sadat Waddy.
Back row: Shawna McHugh, Katey Davis, Owen Mannion.