[Note: This review was written by KFDC Contributor Emily Moise, a local writer and mom of two young children. She’s written about both her explorations with her kids around DC, as well as recommendation for products to enhance kids’ and family experiences. Read more of her articles here, here, here, here, here, and here.]
Mr. Popper’s Penguins have waddled onto Imagination Stage, delighting audiences as only these loveable creatures can. The whimsical tale about dreaming as big as an Antarctic adventure, even in bleak times, sends a timely message to kids and adults alike. And while the plot about a painter-turned-traveling-circus-act holds true to the children’s book, the novelty is the custom-built, mechanical penguins (including, spoiler alert: twenty baby penguins) that are maneuvered around stage by multi-talented, multi-role-playing actors.
This musical play, featuring puppetry, song, and dance, is recommended for ages 3-10, but some of the dialogue skews to the upper end of that range. I brought my five and three-year-olds, and while my youngest was more patiently watching the storyline build up (on his best behavior for his “first show”), my daughter was able to grasp what was happening. Once the first penguin, Captain Cook, makes his entrance, all ages are captivated. One tip: Read the book with your kids before the show to prepare them!
The show runs for 75 minutes without intermission on weekdays, and 90 minutes with a 15-minute intermission on weekends. Bring snacks for intermission, and dress warmly as the theater runs cold. Proof of vaccination for ages 5+ is required at the ticket booth, and masks are required in the theater. Read more about COVID precautions here.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins is showing now through August 7 at Imagination Stage, located at 4908 Auburn Avenue in Bethesda, MD. Tickets are $12-$39.