Curtain to rise on 'Dr. Dolittle'

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Tolland - posted Sun., Jul. 24, 2011
Samantha Lentocah flies through the air during a dance number during rehearsals of Tolland Youth Services Community Theatre's 'Dr. Dolittle.' Photos by Steve Smith.
Samantha Lentocah flies through the air during a dance number during rehearsals of Tolland Youth Services Community Theatre's 'Dr. Dolittle.' Photos by Steve Smith.

The Tolland Youth Services Community Theater is set to stage “Dr. Dolittle” at Tolland High School's auditorium on July 29 and 30.

The show, directed by Evan Powers, features about 60 actors with experience ranging from newcomers to seasoned veterans.

Besides the music and humor, the cast says this particular show has more of a sense of the surreal than most musicals.

“It's from a time that we haven't seen much of in modern movies,” said Zack LaSala, who plays the title role. “It's very funny and fanciful, and very 'out there.' We don't really go into that with modern stories nowadays. We don't try to get whimsical. It's just so absurd. This guy is talking to animals and it's really funny to watch.”

LaSala said the message is that people need to treat animals well, and respect them.

"We need to respect them because they do so much for us,” he said.

Kelsey Kaplan said her role as Polynesia (Dolittle's parrot) is quite a change from her role as the lead singer in rock band “Taking This Oasis.”

“Being on stage is different than being a parrot,” she said. “I get to goof off and have fun.”

Kaplan said the parrot is central to the plot, and has a great presence in the play.

“She's very regal and knowledgable,” she said. “But she's not arrogant about her knowledge. She's sharing it with everybody.”

Kaplan said she's had to do some “different research” for her role.

“Obviously, It doesn't come naturally for me to act like a bird,” she said. “I have to squawk in some of my lines.” She added that a visit to a pet show to listen to parrots has been part of her preparation for the role.

Genevieve Wolf also plays an unusual role – as half of a two-headed llama, along with Angelique Bacha.

“We have to choreograph our feet so they're going at the same time,” Wold said. "That way we look really connected, but it looks really cool when it's all together. It's different and odd, but it's a lot of fun.”

David Fiddler, a bandmate of Kaplan's, who plays Matthew Mugg (Dolittle's sidekick), also relishes his role.

“It's that cool character who is not the hero, not the villain,” he said. “He's kind of mysterious, and he is very sarcastic.”

Powers said the show was selected for its family themes.

“It's one of those over-the-top, larger-than-life musicals,” he said. “It's fun to put on.”

Powers said he has been involved with the summer shows for 10 years. He also directed last summer's "Music Man."

Everyone involved said the rehearsals have run smoothly, and the production schedule has been on time.

“It's an awesome group of kids,” Powers said. “It's been cool to watch their acting skills grow. The quality of singing has improved since last year.”

“Some years, we're rushing at the end to get things together,” Kaplan said.

“People should come see the show because you get to see people you know in Tolland and see them onstage being someone they are not, normally,” Kaplan said.

“It's very psychadelic – very crazy,” Fiddler said. “It's coming together really great.”

“The show itself is just so different and weird,” Wolf said. “It's fun to take on a different challenge.”

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