Print E-mail

Winnie-The-PoohWinnie-The-Pooh


Dennis has been the voice of Pooh for more than three decades, and brings to this remarkable one-man show a quality that goes beyond professionalism into an area we can't even begin to define .. The enchantment of an evening in the 100 Aker Wood was escape in its kindest sense, a brief removal from the pains and stresses that wrench our emotions from dawn to sunset, and sometimes into the shadows of our dreams. ... Al Martinez, Los Angeles Times

Peter Dennis died on April 18, 2009.

AL MARTINEZ WROTE SHORTLY THEREAFTER . . . . . . . . . . . .

It is 5 o'clock in the morning and there is a deep stillness over the mountains of Topanga.

No coyotes wail or owls hoot. The small animals that own the night, the ones that scurry in the bushes beyond sight, have gone to their lairs. Soon we will begin to hear the low hum of commuter traffic building on the boulevard in the canyon below, the early risers who will lead a parade of cars and trucks into the Westside or downtown or north toward the San Fernando Valley.

But for now I am pretty much alone with my thoughts, and I am thinking of Peter Dennis, a good friend for 22 years who during the course of our friendship showed me how to laugh, how to remember and, at the end, how to die. I have thought often of him from the first time we met, glowing with life and excitement, to the last time I saw him near the end of his three-year fight against cancer, his hair gone, his complexion ashen, his voice a weakened whisper.

Here was a gentle and loving man slowly disappearing from the life he loved so much, lost to us not by the diminishment of his soul but by the vulnerability of his body at age 75.

For more than 30 years, Peter had been the stage voice of A.A. Milne's stories of Winnie the Pooh and the other whimsical creatures of the "100 Aker Wood." He didn't just relate their adventures, but created their lives through the voices he gave them: the squeaking of little Roo, the snorting of Piglet and the dour, baleful observations of the donkey, Eeyore.

Sitting alone on stage, looking a bit like everyone's favorite uncle, he was the gentle guide of a child's imagination, taking us back to a sweeter time in our lives when we too walked the trails of the woods with Christopher Robin, past the trap for the heffalumps and the place where the woozle wasn't.

Pooh wasn't just for kids. Peter read from Milne's works at gatherings of friends that celebrated the little bear's "birthday." He once read for the 90th birthday party of my mother-in-law, Betty Lello, who sat with tears in her eyes listening to him re-create the stories she had once read to school children during years as a teacher. Winnie the Pooh was for everyone.

Peter never gave up on life. Just a few days from death earlier this month, he could still smile and even laugh softly as he listened to friends and relatives tell stories of his triumphs and antics, his goodness and his caring at a living memorial given by his wife of 30 years, Diane Mercer, in their Shadow Hills home.

I see him wrapped in a white robe that concealed a midsection bloated by a rare form of cancer that defeated his best efforts to survive. When he accepted his fate, a new tranquility seemed to settle in, allowing him at the end to slip gracefully into his dreams.

We met in 1987 when I attended the performance of his one-man show "Bother!" at the Coronet Theater in West Hollywood. I was both touched and intrigued by his passion for Milne's stories, which he had discovered in 1976 as a drama student in his native England. He became Pooh's voice in Britain and then in the U.S. 10 years later, performing in theaters, festivals and universities on two continents, reminding us all that there is still a place for us in the enchanted forests of our imagination.

Peter and Diane moved to Southern California in 1991 and became naturalized American citizens in 2005, celebrating in their Shadow Hills home with many of the same friends who would attend his living memorial four years later. Peter's acting career expanded beyond stories of Winnie the Pooh to roles in film and television, but it was his magical rendition of the endearing friends of Christopher Robin for which he will be remembered.

"Pooh is my life," he once said to me, "and he's in other people's lives too. There's a great commonality to him. There's so much caring."

In addition to his wife Diane, Peter is survived by his brother Michael Dennis of, England, by a sister Dorothy Barker of Auckland, New Zealand ... and by his friends in the 100 Aker Wood.

Published April 30, 2009 -- Al Martinez is a Pulitzer prize journalist and author who once wrote columns for the Los Angeles Times and now writes freelance essays and stories for magazines and newspapers throughout the country.


 OBITUARY By BRIAN SIBLEY

For the London Newspapers, April 2009

Peter Dennis - ‘Pooh’s Ambassador Extraordinary’

Despite numerous roles on stage, film and TV, the characters for which Peter Dennis will best be remembered are a bear of Very Little Brain named Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger and the other denizens of the ‘100 Aker Wood’ which he brought to life in his one-man theatre show, Bother! and in his acclaimed recordings of A A Milne’s famous books.

Peter John Dennis was born in Dorking, Surrey, in 1933, the second of three children, to Michael Henry Dennis, a mechanical engineer, and Violet Frances Lockwood, a housewife. He was educated first at a Roman Catholic convent and, until the age of 14, at the North Kensington Secondary School.

After four years training in accountancy and surveying, he worked for various companies until 1952 when he was called up for National Service. As a sergeant with the Royal Army Ordnance and Service Corps in Nigeria, Dennis was seconded to work as a shorthand writer for various notable military figures before becoming Personal Assistant to General Sir Kenneth Exham, Commander of the Royal West African Frontier Force in Lagos.

Dennis was returned to Britain as an invalid recovering from cerebral malaria and was demobbed in 1958. His wartime experience led to his being employed as Personal Assistant to the European Managing Director of Canadian Pacific and, later, the Deputy Chairman of the engineering company Guest, Keen & Nettlefords (GKN) in Birmingham.
Dennis had married Audrey Cooper in 1954 with whom he had one son, Shane, before the marriage ended in 1961 with divorce and estrangement from his child. Seventeen years later, Dennis would be reunited with his son, then living in America, and they enjoyed a fulfilled relationship until Shane’s death, as a victim of a random drive-by shooting in St Louis in 1994.

Dennis later married the actress Diane Mercer, with whom he would share thirty years of committed partnership. In the often-fickle world of showbiz, the Dennises made - and kept - many devoted friends and, in addition to actors, their circle included artists, writers and musicians and people from all walks of life on both sides of the Atlantic.

In 1962, on his twenty-ninth birthday Dennis went to Birmingham Repertory Theatre to see his first play - John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger with Derek Jacobi as Jimmy Porter. He instantly knew that he wanted to be an actor and, the following day, handed in his resignation at GKN. The company asked him reconsider as they wanted him to attend Harvard School of Business Management, but Dennis stuck by his decision, briefly joined Birmingham Rep and, in May 1963, enrolled as a full-time student at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

His prolific work as an actor saw him appearing on provincial and West End stages in everything from Shakespeare to pantomime. Notable roles include Stanton in J B Priestley’s Dangerous Corner and his solo-show, Speak of the Devil, compiled by Yvonne Mitchell.
Dennis’ first TV role was in the BBC series Flint of the CID. With other RADA students (among them Hywel Bennett) he was sent to an audition for ‘extras’ only to be offered the title role. Other shows in which he appeared included The Avengers, Yes, Minister, Jennie and Prime Suspect and he was regular cast member in the popular drama series Hadleigh, playing Sutton, the family butler.

It was in 1969 that a friend introduced the 36-year-old Dennis, somewhat belatedly, to the quartet of children’s books by A A Milne featuring verses about Christopher Robin and stories about Winnie-the-Pooh. It was love at first reading and the seed was sown for his long-running, award-winning one-man theatre show, Bother! Taking its title from one of Pooh’s exclamations of puzzlement, it premiered at the ADC Theatre, Cambridge, on 14 October 1976, to mark the fiftieth publication of Winnie-the-Pooh.

Acclaimed performances followed at the Edinburgh Festival in 1982, 1984 and 1991 and the show’s American premiere, at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in 1986, garnered several awards and established Dennis’ reputation in Los Angeles as a quintessentially English actor.

Dennis later recorded all the stories and verses with incidental music by Don Davis, the composer of numerous Hollywood film scores including the Matrix trilogy. He subsequently collaborated with Davis on his The Enchanted Place suite and with jazz musician Phil Woods on his Children’s Suite, both of which works were inspired by Milne’s writing.

Many actors have recorded Milne’s stories but none have captured the author’s sharply defined characters and sly, ironic wit as successfully as Dennis. His vocal characterisations were a delight: the ponderous thought processes of Pooh himself; the jumpily anxious conversation of Piglet (peppered with grunts and snorts); the lugubrious melancholy of Eeyore; the clipped, efficient, tones of Rabbit and the pompous grandiloquence of Owl. Equally successful was his matter-of-fact delivery devoid of both the cloying sentiment often associated with the stories and verses and the strident brashness that came with their Disneyfication.

In 1979, Dennis read at an unveiling of a plaque by Christopher Robin Milne in the Ashdown Forest (the real-life setting for the fictional stories) and it was to be the beginning of long, close friendship between the Dennises and the notoriously shy younger Milne, his wife Lesley and their daughter Clare, a cerebral palsy sufferer. Christopher Milne would later describe Dennis as “Pooh's Ambassador Extraordinary” adding, “no bear has ever had a more devoted friend.” Indeed, Dennis continued giving Pooh readings in venues that ranged from the Palace of Westminster to the Hollywood Bowl.

Moving to the USA in 1991, Dennis began an eight-year struggle to get his Green Card. The fact that he was the only person authorised by the Milne estate to perform the Pooh material came to his rescue and his application was finally approved as being ‘in the National Interest’.

On American television he appeared in Friends, Family Matters, Alias, Murder She Wrote and ER as well as twice playing Isaac Newton in Star Trek: Voyager. Film performances include the lecturing wine expert in Sideways and the voices for a variety of animated characters including one of the ogre hunters in Shrek.

Always an exuberant extrovert, Dennis was diagnosed with metastatic cholangiocarcinoma in 2007, but adopted a courageous, death-denying attitude, throwing himself into work and life. His last project was a marathon recording of Christopher Milne’s autobiographical volumes, The Enchanted Places and The Path Through the Trees, which will eventually stand alongside his definitive performances of the childhood adventures of Christopher and his teddy bear.

Dennis is survived by his wife, Diane, a brother and sister and a vast audience of friends and Pooh-lovers.

Peter John Dennis, actor: born Dorking, Surrey 25 October 1933; married 1954 Audrey Cooper (divorced, one son), Diane Mercer 1979; died Shadow Hills, California, USA 18 April 2009


 Precis Reviews of Peter Dennis’ one-man theatre show — BOTHER!

World Premiere, Thursday, October 14th, 1976
A.D.C. Theatre, Cambridge, England
Pooh wants you to know that he did not write any of the following reviews, as his spelling is "wobbly" and Owl could not help as he was too busy trying to spell Measles and Buttered Toast.
Copies of the original unabridged reviews are available on request
The Hollywood Drama-Logue Critics Award for Outstanding
Achievement in Theatre - Concept and Performance
L.A. Weekly Theater Award for Performance in a One-Character Show

What Christopher Robin Milne wrote about Bother!

Dear Peter,
Pooh is as English as Brer Rabbit is American. And so a dramatic interpretation, to be as faithful as possible to the original, must not only use the author's words but speak them with an English accent. Many Americans know Pooh only through Walt Disney's cartoon version. This is an interpretation which, to me, is so far from the original as to be unrecognisable. By contrast, Bother! is totally English, sympathetic and truthful.
Christopher Robin Milne

A Precis of What Critics Have Written About ‘Bother! The Brain of Pooh’

Al Martinez, Los Angeles Times
The Coronet Theatre, Los Angeles

... Pooh is about you and me and that cognac-colored moment when a scent of memory sends us flying back through time to a place in youth where, for a perfect instant, nothing is wrong. Pooh is about the sweetness in our lives, and while I am more Eeyore than Piglet, the sweetness brushed like a breeze against my face one night last week at the Coronet Theatre in West Los Angeles. Dennis has been the voice of Pooh for more than three decades, and brings to this remarkable one-man show a quality that goes beyond professionalism into an area we can't even begin to define .. The enchantment of an evening in the 100 Aker Wood was escape in its kindest sense, a brief removal from the pains and stresses that wrench our emotions from dawn to sunset, and sometimes into the shadows of our dreams. ...

L.A. Weekly Theater Award for Performance in a One-Character Show
Tom Provenzano, L.A. Weekly
The Tamarind Theatre, Hollywood

... In Which Peter Dennis Gives a Splendiferous Performance and the Audience Gets a Treat ... the stories are better than we have ever heard them before. We get to hear a very old kind of language, a simple language, filled with happy and sad sounds ... There is an extra-special sweetness that is nothing like the sugary sweetness we can hear in Winnie-the-Pooh cartoons by Mr. Disney. It is the real sweetness of the last drops of honey at the very bottom of the jar in the middle of the forest on a windy day surrounded by distant green hills as the bees buzz around the very top of a big old oak tree where the birds are singing and the stream slips slowly under the wooden bridge that leads to the outland. If we are friendly with bears and memories of what is not new, we will love to hear Peter's stories. If we are not, we won't. ...

The Hollywood Drama-Logue Critics Award for Outstanding Achievement in Theatre - Concept and Performance

Lee Melville, Drama-Logue
The Lee Strasberg Theatre, Hollywood

... To conceive such a simple evening of theatre magic is part of the imaginative talent Dennis displays but his acting range is what provides him with the ability to hold an audience's interest beyond the mere telling of a story. ...

The Lee Strasberg Theatre, Hollywood
Lynne Heffley, Los Angeles Times

... The show is a must for adults and older children—old enough to appreciate the spirit of reminiscence in Milne's non-saccharine, superbly crafted tales and poems. Dennis makes each character a living, breathing presence with extraordinary deftness and clarity. Milne and Dennis are a happy collaboration. Together, they make us laugh, catch the throat and touch the memory of the child within each of us.... A tour-de-force performance ...

Richard Bozanich, The Hollywood Reporter
The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, Hollywood

...Peter Dennis captivates his audiences as he proceeds to bring all the inhabitants of Pooh's meadow to life. What better way to introduce children to these classics than with Dennis's creations ...

Susan Armine, Los Angeles Reader
The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, Hollywood

... Dennis gives these stories a different life than they've ever had on the printed page ... one that a hundred Disney animated features can't touch. This is theatre at its most personal: the kind of simple vehicle in which a versatile actor who had done his homework can create magic. ... this is the American premiere of priceless results ...

Variety
The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, Hollywood

...Peter Dennis gently coaxes the audience into their childhoods ... into a fantasy world that has as much to say to adults as it does to children ... What makes the piece so special is Dennis; he is a master craftsman ... It is a Pooh-fectly delightful evening ...

Paul Clay, The Enterprise
The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, Hollywood

... Dennis was introduced to Milne's characters "at the comparatively early age of 36" - this is a fortunate circumstance for the American public, for now we, too, can witness these characters coming to life through Dennis' marvelous interpretive skills. His characterisations demonstrate a great personal fondness for Milne's creations, as well as a world class ability as a performer ... Bringing Dennis to the L.A. boards is a credit to Stage/Lee Strasberg. Of course one would expect no less from an establishment named for the late Lee Strasberg, American dean of 'the Method' school of acting derived from the teachings of pioneer theatrical modernist Konstantin Stanislavsky. Bother! is a gem of a show. I can't recommend it too highly. A must for children from 6 to 106. Don't miss it. ...

Variety
The Coronet Theatre, Los Angeles

...Peter Dennis’ wonderfully affecting one-man show continues to prove that the enjoyment of “children’s” books need not be limited to kids. Dennis has come to take this child’s play very seriously and, after doing it for almost 20 years, has become a master. ...

Richard M. Finder, Los Angeles Easy Reader
The Coronet Theatre, Los Angeles

... When I was a child, my father read aloud enthusiastically, and I was introduced early to A.A. Milne's stories and poems. After I learned to read, Winnie-the-Pooh et al lost much of their charm ... In college days of much time and little money, I found myself sitting around drinking cheap wine and taking turns reading from Now We Are Six, Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner - some of the dullest evenings of my life. Bother! is far from those wine-and-Pooh parties of college days. Dennis does more than read well, though the range and timbre of his versatile actor's voice, his nuances of accent and pronunciation, should not be underestimated. ...

Maggie Daniels, The Orange County Register
The Coronet Theatre, Los Angeles

... Bother! is a pleasant reminder that being read to by somebody else is nothing to sneeze at. This is distilled, de-Disneyfied Bear, and Dennis' well-modulated tones and clipped, British inflections fit the civilized world of Winnie-the-Pooh with a rightness you can feel down to your toes. Bother! leaves you with a sunny spot inside and a hummy kind of feeling, knowing you'll never be so old that a Bear of Very Little Brain can't still inspire a chuckle or two. ...

Michael Lassell, Los Angeles Herald
The Coronet Theatre, Los Angeles

... It's a lovely world, the world of A.A. Milne, and the 90 minutes spent in his company courtesy of Peter Dennis is a grand way to meet or re-meet the quintessential boy, his poetical bear of little brain and their cohorts: the pessimistic donkey, bragging tiger, skittish piglet, befuddled owl, bossy rabbit, motherly Kanga and enthusiastic Roo, all of them up to their usual anthropomorphic shenanigans. Bother! is a respite from the weary world for those of us who've outgrown but never forgotten childhood, a sweet remembrance that conjures a tear in Dennis' final choice, "In Which Christopher Robin And Pooh Come To An Enchanted Place And We Leave Them There". Children of the present seem to enjoy it, too. ...

Sylvie Drake, Los Angeles Times
The Coronet Theatre, Los Angeles

... Dennis, the Voice of Pooh Bear, first exposed Los Angeles to its contagion last December at the Lee Strasberg Creative Center. He has now brought it back to the Coronet in living color and endearingly ignominious detail. ... Bother! is a show for the already-acquainted or, at least, that a nodding relationship with A.A. Milne's disarmingly slow-witted creatures adds enjoyment and juice to Dennis' singular ability to portray them. He zeroes in uncannily on a single, prominent trait and evokes the entire character. Anyone who's read Milne's celebrated books can quickly fill in the blanks. Anyone who hasn't will make a run to read them. ... Dennis is an irresistible enthusiast, a divinely arrested child with a twinkle in his eye and youth nobly pounding in his heart. ... there is nothing but 90 minutes of reawakened pleasure here, deliciously larded with wit. ...

Tom Jacobs, Los Angeles Daily News
The Coronet Theatre, Los Angeles

... In his 90-minute program of Pooh stories and poems, Dennis makes it clear that this is significant literature (as well as good fun). Hearing it read aloud in a theater, one can't help but compare it to the work of the great modern dramatists. Think about it: Isn't Milne's economy of language comparable to Harold Pinter? Milne's sensibilities seem closer to Thornton Wilder's than to Samuel Beckett's, but the writing is vivid, thought-provoking and beautiful in its simplicity. This was a writer who understood human nature. And this is an actor who understands Milne and conveys his essence. There is great warmth in Dennis's readings; one leaves the theater with the good feeling of having shared some delightful stories with some good friends. Ninety minutes of Pooh doesn't seem nearly enough. ...

Todd Everett, The Los Angeles Times
The Coronet Theatre, Los Angeles

…"Bother!" may be the local theatrical event of the year. …Dennis is a brilliant storyteller. There may be no books that are more fun to read aloud to children. Still, hearing it done by a pro—perhaps the pro—is not to be missed.

Al Martinez, The Los Angeles Times
With reality pressing down on the world like the closing lid of a coffin, a little magic is necessary to help light the darkness. I don't mean hocus-pocus magic but the twinkle and mist contained in fairy tales.

We need and should honor the kinds of storytellers who can weave gold out of cotton and sprinkle the ceiling of an ordinary room with stars. Theirs is a rare talent to enchant with tales told from books and from their own rich imaginations.

I have known two true storytellers in my life: Alec Haley, who could spellbind an audience with episodes from his Tennessee boyhood, and Peter Dennis, who crosses the country reading—creating—stories of Winnie-the-Pooh. …"

Lynne Heffley, Los Angeles Times
Every Picture Tells A Story, Los Angeles

... You may never have taken a frolic in the “Hundred Aker Woods” with Christopher Robin, Pooh and the rest of A.A. Milne’s memorable creations. Or you may be one of his legion fans, young and old. Either way, do yourself a favor and celebrate the Bear of Very Little Brain’s 70th birthday at “The Winnie-the-Pooh Marathon”, a reading of the entire Pooh canon, at Every Picture Tells A Story on Sunday by the world’s foremost Pooh interpreter, British actor Peter Dennis. Don’t expect anything remotely Disney-like. With book in hand, this silver-haired actor, the only one authorized by the Pooh Trust and the Milne Estate to perform the works on stage, captures the wistful resonances underlying Milne’s tales, using only body and voice with remarkable results. Inevitably, it is the adults in the audience who respond most keenly. ...

Sid Smith, Chicago Tribune
The Famous Door Theatre

... Bother! is a gem. British actor Peter Dennis has made A.A. Milne and his inimitable Winnie-the-Pooh stories a true specialty, and his enactment of these tales is simple, unpretentious and indescribably magical. Bother! on view at the Famous Door Theatre is a painless journey of simple oral interpretation, laced with witty characterizations and infused with wave after wave of indelible truth. ...

Albert Williams, Chicago Reader
The Famous Door Theatre

... The adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh and his pals are clever, thoughtful satires of the absurdities of human behavior, and the more experience one has of that, the funnier Milne's material is. This droll evening of story telling by British actor Peter Dennis makes a convincing case that the Pooh tales, inspired by Milne's son Christopher Robin and his toy animals, are really aimed at adults, though older pre-teens are likely to enjoy Bother! as well. Dennis steers clear of sticky nostalgia, cloying cuteness, and Disney-style exaggeration; his brisk, intelligent delivery highlights the Wodehousian humor and psychological insight informing these studies of friendship ... his often hilarious impersonations of Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet and the rest of Milne’s menagerie recall the rustic clowns of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. ...

Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times
The Famous Door Theatre

... Dennis uses his silky, almost whispery voice and deft bits of body language to create the whole whimsical menagerie in a way that endows each of the many characters with a vivid and instant identity. Warm, unfussy and just short of precious, his renderings, performed with book in hand, are designed to enchant an adult audience, although children familiar with the stories will surely enjoy Dennis' nuanced dramatics - the theatrical equivalent of engaging line drawings. ...

Robert W. Diedrich, The Northwest Herald, Woodstock, Illinois
Woodstock Opera House

... Memories of creaking rocking chairs, crackling fires and bedtime stories filled the minds of many who were whisked away to childhood Thursday at the Woodstock Opera House. Dennis’ performance cradled the audience like a warm blanket on a cold winter night. From the opening story of Piglet meeting a heffalump to the final tale of Christopher Robin and Pooh coming to an enchanted place, the audience listened in entranced silence. ...

Al Martinez, Los Angeles Times
Topanga, California

... The party, fueled by wine and high spirits, was a noisy affair, its level of sound edging steadily upward as the evening progressed, which made silence at the height of the gaiety all the more remarkable. Nothing gigantic or momentous caused the stillness, which lay like a warm blanket over the evening’s participants. It simply came about with the presence of a man named Peter Dennis and a little bear named Pooh. The party was in honor of the 90th birthday of Betty Lello, a former teacher who, in imagination, has often walked the trail to Pooh’s house through the 100 Aker Wood, past the trap for heffalumps and the place where the woozle wasn’t. ... Sixty people were drawn to the small living room of the home where the party was held to hear Dennis re-create the voices of Eeyore and Piglet and the always-caring Pooh. They listened in enchanted silence .... Dennis gave the sadness substance and Pooh’s caring significance, applying it somehow to the sadness in everyone’s life when no one cares, and the triumph of the spirit when someone does. There was a loving quality to the presentation, a oneness to those of us in the room who listened, a gentle commonality which, for a little while, bound us together with ribbons provided by Pooh. ...

Marty Clear, Weekly Planet, St. Petersburg
The American Stage Theatre

... For people who were raised on Pooh stories, or who connect with Milne’s wistful humor and wry observations, this show should be magical. For people immune to the charms of Pooh, it’s still an entertaining evening, thanks largely to Dennis’ affectionate and engaging performance. With superb vocal characterizations and carefully chosen postures and movements, Dennis perfectly captures the intelligence and innocence of Milne’s writings and Pooh’s world. ...

Natalie Nichols, St. Petersburg Times, Florida
The American Stage Theatre

... Dennis’s myriad expressions, voices and gestures of Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, Eeyore and others will kick-start even the rustiest imagination. Dennis’ craggy sorta-familiar-but-can’t-quite-place-it face is wonderfully expressive. He brings to glorious life each individual character as he reads. ...

Mary Jo Melone, Columnist, The St. Petersburg Times
The American Stage Theatre

...The reason I am as I am is simple. I never read Winnie-the-Pooh as a kid. There you have it. The awful truth. Then a man at the paper suggested I see the British actor Peter Dennis’ one-man show of A. A. Milne’s works. He seemed to think it would be a hoot that this presumed tough-broad columnist would come back weeping in print for her lost childhood. Not me. Why boo-hoo when you can embarrass yourself by telling 400,000 people at once you never read the greatest work of children’s literature in the twentieth century until you were nearly 45? So I went. Listening was part pleasure, part relief. Here were stories meant to stir up the kid within and nobody once said the word ‘disfunction’. Listening to Dennis, I was reminded why every child has an imaginary friend, and why an imaginary friend is a child’s most necessary companion. Listening to Dennis, I was also reminded that as adults we almost all lose our ability to spin stories, and to need nothing but the pleasure of being alive. Christopher Robin called it doing Nothing. And when it came time to grow up, he knew just what would happen. “I’m not going to do Nothing any more ... they don’t let you.” Don’t think for a minute that I became weepy when Peter Dennis reached this part. No way. Not this tough cookie. Did not. Not for long, anyway. And I am no longer embarrassed to have been Pooh-poor for so long. Instead I have had the pleasure that first-times always bring, a more complex pleasure than a child’s perhaps, but still just as sweet. ...

Kay Kipling, The Longboat Observer, Sarasota, Florida
The Asolo Conservatory, Florida State University

... you may find yourself getting a bit weepy, no matter what your age, at the thought of saying goodbye to childhood and childhood friends. Luckily, you can always attend another performance to remind yourself that Pooh lives forever ...

Jay Handelman, Sarasota Herald Tribune
The Asolo Conservatory, Florida State University

... Dennis makes you feel like you've gathered in his living room for some after-supper readings of Pooh's adventures. It's simply a charming evening ... leaving me with a sense of melancholy about the stories never written and desire to read them all again with new eyes. ...

... If you’re looking for a show that will knock your socks off, then the Asolo Conservatory’s Bother! isn’t it. But if, amid the stresses and struggles of the holiday season, you’d really like a chance to relax, snuggle down and perhaps warm your toes by the fire, then there’s no better way to spend your evening. ... Peter Dennis is one of those rare individuals who has not lost touch with his child within. Dennis brings Milne’s stories to life with a combination of sophistication and delight, sure to please Pooh fans of all ages, and leaves you with an inner smile — warm, content and ready to trundle off to bed. ...
The Asolo Conservatory, Florida State University
Willa Haynes, Bradenton Herald,

Ann Haskins, LA Weekly Calendar
Every Picture Tells A Story, Hollywood

... Dennis appreciates the deeper meanings, but as a master storyteller, he leaves the characters and Milne’s delicious language in the spotlight. Best of all, we’re left wanting to hurry home to reread the books. Dennis originally developed Bother! for adult audiences who remember the stories from their own childhoods, but now he offers a special performance for children who are ready to graduate from Disney’s version. Perhaps so parents won’t have to explain why the tale that sends their children into laughter brings tears to their own eyes. ...

The San Diego Reader
The Mandeville Auditorium, The University of California San Diego

... Is a visit to Bother! worth bothering about for anyone over six? The answer has got to be "Yes", for Milne's Pooh stories are at the very peak of children's literature, at the point where childish entertainment is transformed into high artistry and deep wisdom. ... they are gently ironic stories about childhood, narrated from a completely adult point of view - amused, indulgent, tender, and aware (as Christopher Robin was not) that the delights and difficulties of childhood last only for a time, before nature drives the self on to other stages of life. Dennis can be quite sure that he has dedicated himself to a text worthy of his own great talent. ...

The Scotsman
The Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

... A.A. Milne's celebrated bear is brought vividly to life by actor Peter Dennis ... Friends of Pooh jostle into the Heriot-Watt theatre squeaking like Piglets and bouncing like Tiggers. No children, you understand. The show starts at 10.45 p.m. when the little horrors are safely tucked up in bed. This is for Adults Only. "The grown ups laughed a lot," said Piglet ... "You couldn't ask for better story telling," said Pooh ...

Festival Times
The Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

... Peter Dennis’s performance makes you realise Winnie-the-Pooh stories are designed to be read out loud to a listener who is preferably curled up in bed with a cup of cocoa. It’s worth forsaking several weeks supply of cocoa, though, to hear Peter Dennis who simply reads out the stories with no fuss and no frills. He brings the familiar, enchanted world of Pooh, Piglet and Eeyore to life in a spellbinding way. ...

The Man in the Moon Theatre, Chelsea, London
The Stage, London

... His persuasive performance is all consuming, completely engrossing and also quite therapeutic ... I am sure there were more than one or two who went home to their bookshelves and dragged out a dusty old copy of A.A. Milne's stories to read themselves, having found a renewed devotion to a delightfully dumb Bear and his friends ...

Luke Dixon, City Limits
The Gate Theatre, London

... A simple evening, even a slight one, but Mr. Dennis, with his engaging characterisation and the gusto of his performance, transcends the whimsicality and brings one under the spell of A. A. Milne’s beautifully written tales. A roaring fireside would be the ideal setting, but for an hour or so, even the bleak and icy cold Gate becomes almost an enchanted place. ...

Roberta Mock, The List, Edinburgh Festival Events Guide
Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

... Bother! is a quiet treat which parents should rush to take advantage of. With so many inane or poorly acted children's shows gracing the Fringe, Peter Dennis provides a dextrous simplicity certain to charm the pants off children first discovering A.A. Milne or adults harbouring cosy memories. ... His audience was composed exclusively of adults, happily cajoled into providing story requests. Dennis brings the bemused Pooh and his sniffly pal Piglet to animation. I left with a startling respect for Eeyore: Old Grey Donkey, Poet, and surely Spokesman for our Times. ...

Howard Purdy, The Scotsman, Edinburgh
Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

... A. A. Milne’s celebrated bear is brought vividly to life by actor Peter Dennis, who, like Pooh, has a pleasing manner, but admits to a positively startling lack of brain. This is for Adults Only...his audience is reduced to giggling children, and that is exactly what they want. ...

Edinburgh Festival Times
The Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

... An enchanting walk through the world of Winnie-the-Pooh. Peter Dennis's performance makes you realise Winnie-the-Pooh stories are designed to be read out loud to a listener who is preferably curled up in bed with a cup of cocoa. It's worth forsaking several weeks supply of cocoa, though, to hear Peter Dennis who simply reads out the stories with no fuss and no frills. He brings the familiar enchanted world of Pooh, Piglet and Eeyore to life in a spellbinding way. ...

The Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh Festival Fringe
D.D. Edinburgh Festival Times

... Bother! An Hour With Pooh is an enchanting walk through the world of Winnie-the-Pooh. ...Peter Dennis radiates his love of the stories and captivates the children bringing out the best in Milne’s gentle humour. ...

World Premiere, Thursday, October 14th, 1976
Cambridge Evening News
A.D.C. Theatre, Cambridge, England

... It was one of those wonderfully spontaneous moments that could only happen in the theatre. A hand came through the curtains holding a miniature figure of Winnie-the-Pooh. At once the audience burst into a loud and joyous rendition of "Happy Birthday to You!" For everyone had come to celebrate Pooh's 50th birthday - yesterday. ...This is an entertaining show, so deftly acted by Mr. Dennis that his performance is likely to be appreciated by adults more than children. ...

 

Pooh still wants you to know that he did not write any of the above reviews, as his spelling has continued to be "wobbly" and Owl still could not help, as he was too busy trying to spell difficult words like Measles and Buttered Toast

And copies of the original unabridged reviews are still available on request

 

Information on the Audio Recordings of Peter Dennis

The Complete Works of Winnie-the-Pooh
The Enchanted Places

USA:  1 818 HUM POOH (818 486 7664 )
International: +1 818 486 7664

>