The Coterie Brings Mr. Popper and All His Penguins To Life on Stage

The Coterie Theatre continues its 40th Anniversary Season with the new musical adaptation of the beloved book, Mr. Popper’s Penguins. It tells the adventures of Mr. & Mrs. Popper when a mysterious box on their doorstep leads to a house full of penguins and worldwide adventures. Mr. Popper’s Penguins is directed by Heidi Van and will be performed live on The Coterie’s stage through March 31, 2019.

Seth Jones and Elise Poehling. Photo by J. Robert Schraeder.

In this charming musical adaptation, Mr. Popper longs to see the world, have fantastic adventures, find undiscovered continents, and to study penguins. But life for Mr. and Mrs. Popper takes on more adventure than they ever expected when a unexpected box arrives on their doorstep courtesy of Admiral Drake, the world famous explorer. Inside the box is none other than a penguin – a penguin sent from the South Pole that they name Captain Cook and let sleep in their refrigerator. However, with penguins being the social creatures they are, the local aquarium sends over a female penguin and soon the Poppers are hearing the patter of 20 little feet. When the Popper house goes from one penguin living in the icebox to a whole family of penguins who all have to be fed, they form a touring act and take “Popper’s Performing Penguins” on the road. What begins for Mr. & Mrs. Popper as a giant bill for canned shrimp leads to an imaginative journey from Vaudeville to the Antarctic.

Antonia Washington, Faith “Phoenix” Johnson, Elise Poehling, Seth Jones, Ashley Elliott-Rowe, and Roan Ricker. Photo by J. Robert Schraeder.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins is adapted from the best-selling children’s novel by Richard & Florence Atwater first published in 1938. Since winning the prestigious Newbery Honor Award, given for excellence in children’s literature, in 1939, the book has become a classic of family reading and has now been adapted to a delightful stage musical with book by Robert Kauzlaric and music and lyrics by George Howe. This new whimsical take on the popular story made its premiere in 2015 at Lifeline Theatre in Chicago and features showtunes and puppets to bring the south pole wildlife to life on stage. In its review of the premiere production, the Chicago Reader raved, “… [an] endearing and enduring tale… This charming and funny hour-long family show, which uses life-size puppets to represent the birds, emphasizes the loving partnership of Mr. Popper and his improbably patient and supportive wife… [a] witty script and [a] bouncy score…”

Mr. Popper’s Penguins will feature Seth Jones (as Mr. Popper), Elise Poehling (as Mrs. Popper), Roan Ricker (as Mr. Johnson, Admiral Drake, Delivery Guy, Barber, Reporter, Policeman, Bus Driver, Theatre Manager, Sven Svenson), Antonia Washington (as Mrs. Callahan, Gentleman, Curator, Passenger, Mr. Greenbaum, Cab Driver, Copper), and Faith “Phoenix” Johnson and Ashley Elliott-Rowe (as Penguin Puppeteers).

Appropriate for families with ages seven and older, The Coterie’s production of Mr. Popper’s Penguins will run approximately 65 minutes with no intermission and will be performed live on The Coterie’s stage in Crown Center through March 31, 2019. Tickets are $13.00 for youth under 18, students, and seniors age 60 and older; and $17.00 for adults. Groups of 20 or more pay only $5.00-$8.00 per person (some restrictions apply – call the box office for details). Tickets, group reservations and more information is available at