Show History



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."


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.


  • 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.