Doctor Dolittle
The famous Doctor lights up the stage in this magical tale of adventure, unlikely friendships and talking animals.
Show Essentials
9
Roles
+ Ensemble
G
Rated
2
Acts

Full Synopsis

Act One

Our story begins with the Prologue of Dr. Dolittle. Dr. John Dolittle's parrot, Polynesia, proclaims that the doctor has a philosophy: animals can be friends ("Opening"). We follow Polynesia to a quaint West of England fishing village, where we are introduced to the villagers of the town and Matthew Mugg, Dr. Dolittle's best friend. Matthew reveals shocking news – there has recently been a murder, and the town's citizens are eagerly anticipating a trial filled with mistaken identity, love and betrayal ("Puddleby-on-the-Marsh").

As lights come up on the Puddleby Courtroom of Puddleby, England, in 1837, General Bellowes reads aloud the charge brought forth on Dr. John Dolittle: murdering an unknown woman by throwing her off a cliff into the Bristol Channel. Dolittle proclaims that it is a misunderstanding, however, and that the woman is actually a seal named Sophie. The doctor explains that the seal wished to go to the North Pole to see her husband. When General Bellowes and the angry mob become skeptical of the claim, Dr. Dolittle goes on to explain his history with animals.

A flashback commences; we are taken to Dolittle's study as he is treating an elderly patient named Aubrey Dymme-Witt. Upon Aubrey's abrupt exit, Dolittle considers his prospects as an animal doctor, rather than as a people doctor. With a little help from his trusty sidekick, Polynesia, Dr. Dolittle imagines what it would be like to interact with tigers, cheetahs and other exotic creatures ("Talk to the Animals").

We transition back into the courtroom as the trial resumes. General Bellowes, who is still rather skeptical, calls his own feisty British bulldog to the stand ("Rufus Enters"). Following Dr. Dolittle's cross-examination and bark translation, Rufus exits ("Rufus Exits"), and Matthew Mugg takes the stand in defense of his best friend ("My Friend the Doctor"). Tommy Stubbins, a ten-year-old local boy, promptly bursts into the courtroom with his sick duck, Dab-Dab, and begs for Dolittle's help.

A flashback commences; we are joined by Matthew Mugg on a stormy night on the Oxenthorpe Road near Puddleby-on-the-Marsh ("Stormy Night"). Matthew encounters Tommy Stubbins desperately seeking help for a duck who has broken its wing. Matthew, after careful consideration, brings Tommy and the duck to Dr. John Dolittle ("Tommy Meets the Doctor"). As Polynesia prepares a pork sausage dinner for Dolittle's guests ("Make Him Behave"), the doctor declines the pork, insisting that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends ("The Vegetarian"). Tommy, Matthew and the others settle down to sleep out the storm and have a peaceful night of rest.

At early dawn, the guests are awoken by Dolittle – it's time for the morning clinic ("The Doctor's Clinic"). A young woman named Emma Fairfax enters with an injured fox. Emma, the doctor comes to find out, is the niece of General Bellowes, a man whom Dr. Dolittle particularly dislikes. An argument ensues, and Emma promptly storms out ("At the Crossroads").

Back to the trial at the Courthouse, General Bellowes and the doctor are engaging in a heated conversation. Although the General still doubts that the story of Sophie the seal is true, he allows John Dolittle to explain how he came into possession of Sophie. The doctor proclaims that it all began when he received a big box from a friend in Tibet ("Entrance of the Pushmi-Pullyu").

A flashback commences; we find Dr. Dolittle in his garden with Tommy, Polynesia and Matthew. The delivery of the box brings great curiosity and an even greater discovery – it's the two-headed llama, the Pushmi-Pullyu! With the exotic creature in their possession and an incentive for monetary gain, Dolittle travels to Blossom's Mammoth Circus ("Blossom Sees Double"). When circus owner, Albert Blossom, sees the rare animal, he can't believe his eyes ("I've Never Seen Anything Like It!"). After a few moments of haggling, John and Blossom strike a deal, and the circus act is set ("The Circus Playout"). Next, we find the doctor and his gang at the circus encampment, counting their earnings of 38 pounds, two-and-ten pence; enough to set out in search of The Great Pink Sea Snail. Emma Fairfax, having witnessed Dolittle's act, charges to the caravan and accuses the doctor of being a hypocrite and an immoral person. In frustration, Emma vents to Matthew Mugs, who tells her that she is a beautiful person ("Beautiful Things"). Dolittle comes back to the caravan with news; he has discovered the cause of Sophie's depression – she was separated from her husband when they were captured. The doctor and Matthew hatch a plan to help the seal escape and return her safely back to the North Pole.

As nightfall arrives, Dr. Dolittle and Sophie sneak off to the cliffs above the Bristol Channel. Here, John Dolittle wishes Sophie well and carries her to the edge of the cliff ("When I Look in Your Eyes"). As the doctor is walking away from the cliffs, however, two policemen appear from the shadows – they have witnessed everything! The officers grab Dolittle and take him away. Emma, shocked and remorseful, follows close behind.

We transition back to the trial at the Courthouse to find that Dr. Dolittle has been acquitted of murder charges due to the testimony from the bearded lady at the circus. As the crowd rejoices, however, General Bellowes decides that Dolittle's behavior is lunatic and infringes upon the public safety; the doctor must be committed to the insane asylum. Emma objects and is taken away by the Bailiff as the crowd angrily responds. In frustration, Dr. Dolittle wonders why we treat animals like animals ("Like Animals") and is led out of the courtroom to his cell.

Act Two

The curtain rises on Dr. Dolittle sitting in a cell and awaiting his fate when Emma Fairfax enters the jail to visit with him. When their conversation turns into an angry fight, the two express their hatred for each other ("You're Impossible!"). As the argument reaches its peak, Dolittle grabs Emma and kisses her on impulse. Emma, who is utterly surprised, reels back and slaps the doctor as she leaves the cell ("The Conspiracy").

Just outside of the Courtroom, Polynesia and Matthew have gathered together to prepare for the escape! As the parrot flies away to begin the rescue, Emma storms in to find Matthew, who tries his best to calm Emma down and rationalize the doctor's behavior. When he finally helps her realize the true compassion of John Dolittle, Emma rushes off in excitement but plants a big wet kiss on Matthew's cheek before leaving. With Emma out of sight, Matthew jumps for joy and proclaims his love for Ms. Fairfax ("After Today").

We now find Tommy and Matthew at sea aboard The Flounder as they anxiously await the arrival of Dr. Dolittle and Polynesia. At that very moment, the doctor appears from the sky in a parachute supported by a flock of seagulls ("The Balloon Descends"). He lands safely, and the whole crew rejoices. When the group arrives at the ship's dining saloon, Emma is revealed in the kitchen! Dolittle, both weary and annoyed by this, takes a seat at the table. The two begin to argue once again when Emma is in disagreement about the ship's final destination ("Fabulous Places"). As a compromise, the bickering duo agrees to choose at random one location on the globe – this will be the undisputed destination of their travels. Emma lands on Sea Star Island ("Last Reported Position"), a tiny island which merely floats in the sea.

Later that evening on the upper deck of The Flounder, Polynesia and Dolittle search for Sea Star Island. They put their search on hold for the remainder of the night to rest. Emma, who had been scrubbing the deck all evening, is already fast asleep; Matthew and Dolittle each try to express their feelings for Emma ("Where Are the Words?").

As the two men fade silently into the shadows, there is a flash of lightning and rumbling of thunder ("The Storm"). The Flounder crew rushes up on deck to encounter the turbulent storm. The weather continues to grow more violent and eventually splits the ship in half, creating chaos; the crew abandons ship as The Flounder sinks to its watery grave.

Morning breaks as the sun rises – Dr. Dolittle calmly floats to the seashore on a piece of wreckage as Polynesia looks on. The remaining crew members, except for Emma, who has vanished, also arrive onto the seashore, exhausted from the storm. The group has finally found Sea Star Island ("Welcome to Sea Star Island") and must begin to travel inland on foot. As the others head off, the doctor stays behind to leave orders with Polynesia. From the undergrowth comes Emma in a bad mood, who overhears Dolittle's concern for her safety. Dolittle, embarrassed that she has heard, attempts to cover up his compassion and continues on with his rude ways. At that very moment, warriors appear from behind the bushes, and the group is surrounded; Straight Arrow, their leader and a good friend of the doctor's, steps forward – the two embrace. Straight Arrow invites the group for tea and tells them about his island: a perfect sanctuary for all animals to coexist ("Save the Animals").

Without warning, a thunderous sound shakes the entire island, and a deep resonant sound reverberates. In the near vicinity, the legendary Great Pink Sea Snail appears ("The Entrance of Jean-Claude"). After a bit of interaction, Dr. Dolittle discovers that the snail's name is Jean-Claude and he is very friendly; Jean-Claude insists that he would like to visit his cousin in Scotland! The travelers begin to gather their things in preparation for their journey back to Puddleby, except for Dolittle, who says that he simply cannot return to England. The doctor says his goodbyes to each friend ("The Goodbyes") – Emma leaves him with a passionate kiss. John Dolittle is left alone with only his books and maps.

Two weeks have now passed as Dolittle sits under a full moon at the beach and writes a letter to his dear Emma ("Something in Your Smile"). At the conclusion, Sophie the seal surprises him at the shore with exciting news: all of the animals in England have gone on strike and refuse to do any work unless Dr. Dolittle is pardoned immediately. Dolittle races home to witness everything that is occurring ("Save the Animals – Reprise")!

Outside of the Puddleby Courtroom, pandemonium has occurred; General Bellowes is facing an angry gathering of villagers and animals. Emma Fairfax leads the coup, as her voice rings out with others in protest ("The Voice of Protest"). Under the ravenous pressure of the town and its animals, General Bellowes grants amnesty to Dolittle and declares him completely innocent of all wrongdoing. Just then, the doctor flies into town on the exotic Pushmi-Pullyu, to the amazement of the crowd. The entire company rejoices as Emma and Dolittle embrace. ("Act Two Finale").

Casting

Casting

Cast Size: Flexible Cast Size
Cast Type: Ensemble Cast
Dance Requirements: Standard

Character Breakdown

Dr. John Dolittle
A country animal doctor who can talk to animals. He is kind-hearted, good-natured, and loving.
Gender: male
Age: 35 to 50
Vocal range top: Ab4
Vocal range bottom: Bb2
Polynesia
Dolittle's large, brilliantly plumaged, 199-year-old, long-tailed, multi-lingual, Macaw parrot. She is able to speak English.
Gender: female
Age: 25 to 45
Vocal range top: Eb5
Vocal range bottom: F3
Matthew Mugg
The Irish cat's meat man. He is a good friend to Dolittle and helps take care of the house and garden while he is away.
Gender: male
Age: 30 to 40
Vocal range top: A4
Vocal range bottom: A2
Tommy Stubbins
An intelligent, bright-eyed local boy and Dolittle's assistant.
Gender: male
Age: 10 to 14
Vocal range top: B4
Vocal range bottom: B3
General Bellowes
A local landowner and the magistrate to the Puddleby Court who is trying Dolittle.
Gender: male
Age: 45 to 65
Emma Fairfax
Bellowes' niece, who is short-tempered like her uncle. She gets off on the wrong foot with Dolittle, but ends up defending him in court.
Gender: female
Age: 25 to 35
Vocal range top: A5
Vocal range bottom: Ab3
Albert Blossom
A rugged and pompous Yorkshire man, who owns a run-down touring circus.
Gender: male
Age: 50 to 65
Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: C3
Gertie Blossom
Albert's German wife, she helps him run the circus and is very money-oriented.
Gender: female
Age: 40 to 60
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: C4
Straight Arrow
Dolittle's colleague who is the leader of Sea Star Island. He is very refined, majestic, elegant and highly educated.
Gender: male
Age: 45 to 60
Vocal range top: G4
Vocal range bottom: C3
Ensemble
Villagers; Circus Folk; Animals
Full Song List
Doctor Dolittle: Talk To The Animals
Doctor Dolittle: I've Never Seen Anything Like It
Doctor Dolittle: Beautiful Things
Doctor Dolittle: When I Look Into Your Eyes
Doctor Dolittle: Like Animals
Doctor Dolittle: You're Impossible
Doctor Dolittle: After Today
Doctor Dolittle: Fabulous Places
Doctor Dolittle: Where Are The Words?
Doctor Dolittle: The Storm
Doctor Dolittle: Save The Animals
Doctor Dolittle: Something In Your Smile
Doctor Dolittle: The Voice Of Protest

Show History

Inspiration

Doctor Dolittle is based on the Academy Award-winning 1967 British musical film directed by Richard Fleischer, starring Rex Harrison, Samantha Eggar, Anthony Newley and Richard Attenborough. It was adapted by Leslie Bricusse (screenplay/music) from the novel series by Hugh Lofting.

From the desk of Leslie Bricusse: "It goes without saying that for years the thought of Dolittle as a stage musical was lurking at the back of my mind. The same thing had happened when we made the film of Victor/Victoria starring Julie Andrews. Writer-director Blake Edwards, composer Henry Mancini and I were well aware that in Julie we had one of the greatest musical theatre stars of our time. It took us over a decade, but the show finally opened on Broadway in 1995. It was a long swim, but ultimately a triumphant one.

"Dolittle was even more difficult, because I had no idea of how to overcome the seemingly insurmountable problem of creating convincingly realistic animals. Some years ago, at the height of his glittering era as James Bond, I accompanied Roger Moore to Elstree Studios, where he gave a delightful rendition of 'Talk to the Animals''on 'The Muppet Show.' We had lunch with Jim Henson and Frank Oz, the show's brilliant creators, and Jim mooted the idea of Doctor Dolittle in the theatre. I said that, charming and funny as I thought it would be, children needed to believe that the animals were real, and not puppets. Little could I have imagined then the miraculous advent of animatronic animals, and that one day I would be sitting in the biggest theatre in London, as I am today, looking at nearly one hundred incredibly realistic animals, created by the Jim Henson Creature Workshop, run by Jim's son Brian, populating the stage version of Doctor Dolittle, and that my wife, my son and I would be sitting, once again with our old chum Roger Moore, at the first night of Doctor Dolittle, watching their magic unfold.

"The icing on the cake came when Julie Andrews – Mary Poppins herself – agreed to provide the many voices of Dolittle's tutor, friend and mentor, Polynesia the parrot – a task she accomplished both brilliantly and hilariously. The wonderful and funny hours we spent together evolving Polynesia in a series of recording sessions were for me one of the unforgettable highlights of the rehearsal period."

Productions

Doctor Dolittle was first performed at the Hammersmith Apollo in London on June 29, 1998. The world premiere starred Phillip Schofield as the title character, along with Sarah Jane Hassell, Bryan Smyth, Peter Cellier, Peter Gallagher, John Rawnsley and Julie Andrews as the voice of Polynesia the parrot. Doctor Dolittle featured production design by Mark Thompson, musical direction by Michael England and direction by Steven Pimlott. After a year at the Hammersmith Apollo, the production was taken around the major theatres in Britain, finally finishing in September 2001.

Trivia

  • Doctor John Dolittle lives in the fictional village of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh in the West Country.
  • The original London production cost about four million pounds to produce.
  • Prince Harry and his father, Charles Prince of Wales, attended the premiere of the stage version of Doctor Dolittle at the Hammersmith Apollo.
  • The 1967 film, Doctor Dolittle, won the Academy Award for Visual Effects and the Academy Award for Best Original Song ("Talk to the Animals").
  • A 1998 remake of the original film, entitled Dr. Dolittle, starred Eddie Murphy and Kyla Pratt.

Critical Reaction

"Moments of pure jaw-dropping pleasure!"
– The Daily Telegraph

"Animal magic."
– The News of the World

"The multi-million pound show features lavish sets and complicated animatronics. But it was the star, Phillip Schofield, who stole the show.... This is a sure-fire hit!"
– London Tonight (ITV)

"A musical menagerie of marvels... just as you think the show has exhausted all the visual treats, it manages to trump its own ace."
– The Guardian

Academy Award

1967 - Best Picture, Nominee ()

Connect

Billing

Based on The Doctor Dolittle Stories by Hugh Lofting and the Twentieth Century Fox film

Requirements

You must give the authors/creators billing credits, as specified in the Production Contract, in a conspicuous manner on the first page of credits in all programs and on houseboards, displays and in all other advertising announcements of any kind.
Percentages listed indicate required type size in relation to title size.
DOCTOR DOLITTLE, A NEW MUSICAL
(100%)
 
Book, Music and Lyrics by LESLIE BRICUSSE
(50%)
 
Based on the Doctor Dolittle stories by Hugh Lofting and
The Twentieth Century Fox film
(37.5%)
 
Originally produced in the United States
by the Pittsburgh CLO, Pittsburgh, PA
Van Kaplan, Executive Producer
(20%)
The videotaping or other video or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited

Included Materials

ItemQuantity Included
LIBRETTO/VOCAL BOOK25
PIANO CONDUCTOR'S SCORE2

Production Resources

Resource
HOW DOES THE SHOW GO ON-10/CS
HOW DOES THE SHOW GO ON?
LOGO PACK DIGITAL
PRODUCTIONPRO
REFERENCE RECORDING
STAGE MANAGER SCRIPT
TRANSPOSITIONS-ON-DEMAND
LOGO PACK

STANDARD ORCHESTRATION

InstrumentationDoubling
BASS(ACOUSTIC BASS)
CELLO(1 PLAYER REQUIRED)
DRUMS
HORN
KEYBOARD 1
KEYBOARD 2
REED 1FLUTE , PICCOLO , SOPRANO SAXOPHONE
REED 2ALTO SAXOPHONE , Bb CLARINET , FLUTE , SOPRANO SAXOPHONE
REED 3Bb CLARINET , TENOR SAXOPHONE
REED 4Bb CLARINET , BARITONE SAXOPHONE , BASS CLARINET
TROMBONE
TRUMPET
TRUMPET 2
VIOLIN(2 PLAYERS REQUIRED)