Dr. Dolittle—beloved subject of children’s books, movies and now a Broadway musical—is good-natured, fun-spirited and full of old-fashioned charm. So is Tommy Tune, the tall star of the current Broadway Series production captivating Sacramento audiences.Through his famous tap-dance moves, 6-foot-6-inch Tune tells the tall tale of the doctor who not only talks to the animals, but also dances and sings with them. His puppet menagerie includes a horse, a dog, a pig, a parrot, a seal, a monkey and, of course, the famous pushmi-pullyu two-headed llama. The story is the familiar one about a veterinarian who speaks with his patients to find out what ails them. But in this version, the show adds a trial and a couple of love stories (including man-woman, doctor-seal and seal-seal relationships).
As the show’s host, Tune interacts with the audience with his congenial and charismatic personality. He’s not only a towering presence, with legs that go on for miles; he’s also enthusiastic about “touring the capitals of the world”—as he charmingly referred to Sacramento during a post-production thank-you speech.
The musical is decidedly designed for the younger set. Kids will enjoy the puppet animals, colorful costumes, handsome English-countryside sets, silly jokes and dancing monkeys while ignoring the lackluster songs and sometimes-slow pacing. The talented Dee Hoty (as Emma, the engaging English lady and doctor’s love interest) will even have kids rooting for happily ever after, though in the end, it’s the devilish dancing monkeys they’ll remember fondest and longest.