A comment made by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and reported by The Sunday Times newspaper in January led many to speculate about a West End shake-up of musicals in anticipation of the Broadway hit The Lion King, which arrives at the Lyceum Theatre in October. In particular, Doctor Dolittle, Lloyd-Webber's Starlight Express and Cameron Mackintosh's Miss Saigon were all rumoured to be closing. But producers of all three shows, including Doctor Dolittle, hotly denied any plans to end their runs.
Bricusse adapted Doctor Dolittle for the stage from his own score for the 1965 film which starred Rex Harrison and was based on the classic stories of Hugh Loftus. Schofield, who also starred in the West End revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, plays the good doctor with a knack for talking to animals. But the show's real draw is the hundreds of animatronic animals from Jim Henson's Creature Shop, including the Pushmi-Pullyu and the giant pink sea snail. Julie Andrews lent her pre-recorded voice for Dolittle's trusty parrot Polynesia.
Doctor Dolittle had been booking through September 1999.