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Mark Williams stars as Doctor Dolittle in new tour opening in Bromley

PUBLISHED: 10:52 05 November 2018

Mark Williams (Harry Potter) is to star in a new production of Doctor Dolittle, which will be opening in Bromley next week. Picture: Doctor Dolittle The Musical

Mark Williams (Harry Potter) is to star in a new production of Doctor Dolittle, which will be opening in Bromley next week. Picture: Doctor Dolittle The Musical

(c)2018 Simon Turtle

A new adaptation of Doctor Dolittle will be starting its tour at Bromley next week.

Mark Williams and Brian Capron will play the first ten venues on the tour. Picture: Kenny McCrackenMark Williams and Brian Capron will play the first ten venues on the tour. Picture: Kenny McCracken

Starring Mark Williams as Doctor Dolittle himself, as well as Brian Capron, Vicky Entwistle, Mollie Melia-Redgrave and Patrick Sullivan, the new production will be part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the original film starring Rex Harrison, and will feature the same songs including the academy award-winning Talk To The Animals.

Featuring stunning visual puppetry, the production, with the book reworked by Leslie Bricusse, will be directed by Christopher Renshaw.

Mark, who famously played Mr Weasley in the Harry Potter films, also has many theatre credits, including Fanshen at the National Theatre, Doctor of Honour for Cheek by Jowl, Moscow Gold, Singer, A Dream of People and As You Like It for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Art in the West End, Toast at the Royal Court and Tartuffe at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

“I have always wanted to do a musical but the timings just never worked out,” he said.

Emily Essery with Chee-Chee the monkey in rehearsals. Picture: Gareth BaileyEmily Essery with Chee-Chee the monkey in rehearsals. Picture: Gareth Bailey

“I nearly did My Fair Lady recently. I got so close to it, but there were problems with American Equity and it fell though, so when Doctor Dolittle came along I said yes, definitely yes!”

The new show marks part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the original movie starring the late Rex Harrison, and there were other elements that piqued Mark’s particular interest in the project too.

“It was a combination of things really, but using puppets that can dance, sing and move in a completely different way adds a whole other layer that fascinates me.

“In the film it was real animals and then on stage it was animatronics, but this time around it is completely different.

“It also seemed like the right time to do Dolittle again.

“I don’t think – with all due respect to other productions – that he’s been done justice to, and I think it’s the right time to talk about taking care of animals.

“Leslie [Bricusse – book, music and lyrics] was really interested in looking again at a new adaptation and we now have the chance to interact in a much more dramatic way.”

Mark added: “And that superhero skill of talking to the animals really interested me because it opens up a whole other universe.”

Describing himself as an animal lover, Mark confessed to being enthralled by animal behaviour.

“We know so very little really. With transmitter technology we have only just found out, for example, what puffins do when they’re not nesting. “We have a lot to learn yet.”

Mark promised that Doctor Dolittle is lots of fun for all the family.

He said: “There are lots of things that kids especially will find hilarious.

“After all, what’s not funny about a naughty monkey?

“And the great thing is that it is all live! Going to the theatre for the first time for kids is like having only ever watched football on the telly and then going to a match.

“It happens right in front of you.”

Mark also added that he was excited by the prospect of being on tour.

“I was touring way back and have worked away all my life, so it’s normal to me,” he said.

“Besides, it makes home all the sweeter.

“I have been to everywhere pretty much, either as an actor or through making documentaries or just visiting for pleasure.

“I love getting out and about; getting the bus and exploring towns. It’s the best thing about touring.”

The tour opens at the Churchill Theatre, High Street, Bromley, from November 9 - 24.

For tickets call 020 3285 6000 or visit www.churchilltheatre.co.uk.

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