Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue 20–Sat 31 May
With a Hollywood pedigree that includes The Happiest Millionaire, Finian’s Rainbow and Half a Sixpence, Tommy Steele needs no lessons in how to turn in a charismatic lead performance in a musical. Even at the age of 71 – yes, the man who first hit the charts with ‘Rock with the Caveman’ is really that old – Steele has all the showbiz charm to invigorate old favourites such as ‘If I Could Talk to the Animals’. That’s even more the case when you remember Leslie Bricusse wrote the score of his 1967 musical with the sing-talking technique of Rex Harrison in mind.
Ten years after the show transferred from the big screen to the stage, Steele is taking on the role of the multi-lingual doctor who’d rather be hanging around with a two-headed Pushmi-pullyu and chatting to parrots and pigs than treating human beings. In Bob Tomson’s production, which is based on the Oscar-winning film, the animals are realised with spectacular puppets and joined on stage by a large company of singers and dancers, all helping Steele on his journey in search of the Giant Pink Sea Snail. Other hits from the show include ‘I’ve Never Seen Anything Like It’ and ‘My Friend the Doctor’.