In Conversation With... Patrick Sullivan | Doctor Dolittle | Interview

Thursday 22 November 2018

After starring as Blake in Bat Out of Hell, Patrick Sullivan has swapped a motorbike for a cycling bike and a whole load of animals, as he becomes Matthew Mugg in Doctor Dolittle. Patrick told us what we can expect from the show, what Matthew is like and what he'd love to do next...

Can you tell us a little bit about Doctor Dolittle and what we can expect?
Doctor Dolittle is a beautifully charming family show. It deals with important issues like the way we treat animals and in turn the environment. It has real heart and integrity and stands up against some of the more well-known family classics like Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

You recently starred in Bat Out of Hell which is very different from this show, what drew you to Doctor Dolittle?
It was actually that huge difference that attracted me! I had the most incredible time creating and working on Bat. As a cast we were given such freedom to develop and adapt our characters. I had never done a show like Doctor Dolittle and reading the script the character I play, Matthew Mugg, really felt like something I wanted to work on! It's a very traditional show with great song and dance numbers which I've always wanted to do! 

As you mentioned, you’re playing Matthew Mugg, what’s he like as a character?
Matthew is a very sweet innocent guy, with the best of intentions. He's an Irish immigrant and so doesn't have any family of his own in Puddleby, where the show is set, so he builds his own family when Doctor Dolittle takes him in. We see Matthew repeating this gesture when he takes in a local orphan Tommy Stubbins. He is driven by a kindness and warmth of character that I find very admirable! 

Puppets are a key part of this production, what has the process of learning to work and move with them been like? 
It's been a very rewarding challenge! I have had zero experience with puppetry prior to this show so I was really starting from the ground up! It's fantastic to be able to create reality where animals can pack a suitcase or do a dance number! It's really magic! 

Have you got a favourite puppet in the show?
I might have a soft spot for him Chee Chee the chimpanzee...

Can you sum up Doctor Dolittle in five words?

If you had a magic wand, which show would you do next?
Oh a very difficult question. I don't really have a favourite show! I would love to do A Man of No Importance or else Catch Me If You Can. I think those are two shows that have never got the attention in London they deserve. 

If you could go back to any era, when would you go to and why?
I know this isn’t the question but I'd much rather go into the future a hundred years and just see how it all plays out.

What’s your top piece of advice for aspiring performers?
Perform as much as you can. I was very lucky growing up in Ireland where there was considerably less competition for shows, especially for boys, so I was given loads of opportunities to play parts and develop a stage craft before I ever went to college! I was very lucky but there are still opportunities to be had if you look in the right places!

Also just try and be nice to people! It’s easy to forget to treat people with respect.

A massive thank you to Patrick for taking the time to chat to us. Doctor Dolittle is currently touring the UK until 2nd November 2019

Interview by Editor, Olivia Mitchell

photo credit: Alastair Muir