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May 25, 2024

Where Every Family Matters

Theater Review: Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Waddle on over to NCT for a magical journey through an imaginative tale.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Oct. 26 – Dec. 3; All ages)
Nashville Children’s Theatre (NCT)
25 Middleton St., Nashville
615-252-4675 |
Sat – Sun 2 p.m., plus Wednesday, Nov. 8  at 1 p.m. (homeschool show)
$20 adults, $15 youth

A purely magical experience awaits your family at NCT during its current run of Mr. Popper’s Penguins. This festive musical is based on the 1938 Newbery Honor children’s novel of the same name by Richard and Florence Atwater.

This is the second production under the direction of newly appointed Executive Artistic Director Ernie Nolan. It’s exciting to see that the high bar of sophistication Nolan set with the season’s first production, The Hundred Dresses, goes even higher with Mr. Popper’s Penguins. This delightful new era at NCT is as equally engaging for adults as it is for its pint-sized target audience.

Scott Leathers’ robust multi-functioning set design creates the perfect staging for the show, and it accommodates a live, four-piece orchestra residing in an actual orchestra pit at the front of the stage. A large 1930s-style radio hangs above the stage, lighting up during broadcast moments. The attention to this kind of detail is magnificent.

NCT’s audience continues to see new faces on its stage with this production. Geoff Davin (Mr. Popper), Erin Parker (Mrs. Parker) and Corinne Bupp (Gretta, Reporter, Neighbor) make their NCT debuts. Davin and Parker share a delightful chemistry, each bringing the kind of spectacular charm and whimsy one expects from a couple who wind up living with a family of playful penguins living in their home.

Joining the newcomers are beloved NCT veterans Rona Carter, Shawn Knight and Galen Fott. Each plays multiple roles while serving as the production’s penguin puppeteers.

Brian Hull of Nashville Public Library’s Wishing Chair Productions is the brainchild behind the crafting of the penguins in the show. His puppet creations, as always, are perfect for sparking young imaginations. Donning penguin-esque attire, Knight and Bupp bring to life Hull’s penguins with lots of playful enthusiasm young viewers (and older ones) find engaging.

With Mr. Popper’s Penguins running through Dec. 3, your family has plenty of opportunity to waddle on over to NCT for a whole new experience with a beloved, classic tale.


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