Mr. Popper's Penguins at The Coterie: A Review



Young audiences will delight in The Coterie's newest production Mr. Popper's Penguins showing through March 31. This whimsical musical is a delight for young children with an imaginative plot, creative use of puppetry and casting, and talented cast. My seven-year-old daughter, a lifelong fan of Coterie's young audience productions, said that this was her favorite show yet!

Mr. Popper's Penguins is a charming musical with a fun and creative plot. With a talented singing cast providing an array of charming and funny characters, all of the children in the audience were enamored as they watched the tale unfold.

Have you ever dreamed of adventure? Traveling to exotic places? One-of-a-kind unforgettable experiences? Is life ever mundane? If yes, then you can empathize with Mr. Popper, the eponymous character in this season's Coterie production, Mr. Popper's Penguins. The protagonist, Mr. Popper (played by Seth Jones), lives a humble life in a generic small town in 1930s America. He paints houses for a living, business is slow and money is tight. In his spare time, he enjoys peaceful evenings with his pleasant wife (played by Elise Poehling), reads National Geographic magazine, listens to the adventures of explorer, Admiral Drake, on the radio, and dreams of exploring the south pole where penguins live.

Imagine his surprise, when one day, a package arrives from Admiral Drake himself, containing... a pet penguin. The play, inspired by the book of the same name, tells of the adventures the Poppers face when raising a penguin in a house. No one in their community has seen or even heard of penguins... one passerby thinks it is an aardvark, another a pelican. No one knows how to care for them. And, these South Pole birds do require special care. When the penguin seems down, the Poppers call an aquarium for advice. The aquarium is also caring for a lonely penguin, so they send it to the Poppers as a mate. And, as you may have guessed, the two penguins fall in love and have lots of penguin chicks.

The Poppers cannot afford to feed so many penguins, but then, inspiration strikes and Mrs. Popper suggests going on the road with their pets performing in vaudeville. This solves their financial woes but brings its own stresses. The finale twist offers a terrific happy ending for all.

Children laughed and cheered as they watched the story unfold with charming life-size puppets portraying the penguins, and a delightful cast playing the human characters. The every talented Roan Ricker, a Coterie alum, plays numerous characters, including Admiral Drake, throughout the play giving each one a fresh personality and mannerisms, and Antonia Washington, Fath Johnson, and Ashley Elliott-Rowe also do well as supporting characters.

I appreciate The Coterie, once again, capturing the imagination of young audiences and delighting them with a whimsical, creative, and delightful show. On the way home, my girls were inspired to learn more about the South Pole and penguins, having already requested new library books to quench their thirst for knowledge. This is a great byproduct of a fun afternoon at the theater. This a great show for families to enjoy during spring break!

Tip: Read our Spring Break Staycation Guide for more ideas while you're enjoying a family day at Crown Center, home of The Coterie!

Mr. Popper's Penguins showing at The Coterie through March 31. Tickets are $13 for youth under 18, and seniors age 60 and older; and $17 for adults. The Coterie offers group packages. Call the box office at 816.474.6552 for information. Run time: 1 Hour.

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