To see The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful (And Her Dog) is to go on an educational and humorous imaginary journey into space without ever leaving the intimate, cozy, exposed-brick Keegan Theatre in Dupont Circle. The musical — book and lyrics by Lauren Gunderson, music by Bree Lowdermilk, directed and choreographed by Elena Velasco, music directed by Matty Mitchell — is interactive, full of facts about the sun and planets, and it’s immersive, thanks to the projections throughout designed by Zavier Augustus Lee Taylor.
Before the show begins, the nerdy and fun mood is set as songs like “I Am a Paleontologist” by They Might Be Giants play and theatergoers take in the fascinating set, which is a child’s bedroom illuminated with some glowy blue lights.
The musical then introduces us to some of the characters: Dr. Wonderful, played by Ruth Elizabeth Diaz; her butterscotch-loving and sarcastic dog, played with charm and irreverence by Christopher Rios; and her mom played by Carianmax Benitez. The plot boils down to Dr. Wonderful, a precocious and ambitious young woman wanting to prove herself as a “real” scientist. She gets her chance when a mysterious detective with a Brooklyn accent, played hilariously by Benitez, gives her a case to solve: figure out who or what will take away our beloved sun!
Through song, imagination, and Dr. Wonderful’s constant explanations to her endearingly clueless dog, children will learn quite a bit. In the song “Super Science Man,” the audience learns about the sun in an interactive way. In “Fusion Gives the Power,” one of the best songs in the performance, the entire cast and audience are involved. We also meet Ben, Dr. Wonderful’s friend, and crush, played by a lovable Delante Dates, who becomes part of the crew. In the fun and funny “Rockin the Science,” which showcases Benitez’s strong and gorgeous voice, Dr. Wonderful’s mom gives her permission and the gang embarks on their imaginary trip through our solar system.
Dr. Wonderful, her dog, and Ben do solve the mystery (it’s a natural phenomenon, not an evil sun thief), and that’s where the 3-D glasses given out before the show come in. One of the last songs is “Wow,” a pretty song that aptly describes the audience’s reaction to this offbeat and educational musical. After returning to earth and the Keegan Theatre, the entire gang, and the audience along with them, have a lot more knowledge about space, and possibly a craving for a “butterscotch pizza dog,” too.