Dr. Professor Neal Portenza’s Choose Your Own Portenza

By Cathy Culliver

It’s Dr. Professor Neal Portenza’s birthday and you’re invited to the party.

Joined by his food-loving friend Mr. Patapotomoose (Pat Burtscher), it’s no surprise that the lovable but idiotic Dr. Portenza (Joshua Ladgrove) is a big hit with kids. He’s silly, he wears strange clothes and he’s really easily made fun of.

The show itself is haphazard and chaotic, but luckily that’s just the way kids like it. The title of the show comes from the fact that the audience can vote on certain outcomes in the show, like “who is knocking on the door?” and “what should Dr. Portenza do to Mr. Patapotomoose?” (unsurprisingly, the audience voted overwhelmingly in the latter category for Mr Patapotomoose to be kicked in the bum).

Occasionaly Dr Portenza leaves his own birthday party to make room for other characters like his evil twin half-brother Gary Portenza, Fishboy and Steven Seagull who teaches the kids how to deal with bullies (although his advice isn’t completely practical as it includes a fireball to the head).

Ladgrove is a natural at playing all of these delightfully silly characters; he knows exactly what kids like and he gives it in spades.

Burtscher is also wonderful as the mischievous and naughty Mr Patapotomoose, who torments Dr. Portenza by hiding from him, pulling faces behind his back and eating all the cookies.

There’s lots of audience participation that will keep the kids engaged and entertained, and plenty of good old-fashioned silliness to keep children and adults alike giggling the whole way through.

A highly recommended show for the school holidays.

Choose Your Own Portenza is on at the Melbourne Town Hall until Sunday 14th March. For information and tickets, go here: