Script and lyrics by Mo Willems. Music by Deborah Wicks La Puma. A Carousel Theatre for Young People presentation. At the Waterfront Theatre on Saturday, March 2. Continues until March 31
Elephant and Piggie are having a blast performing for their fans in Carousel Theatre for Young People’s Elephant & Piggie’s “We Are in a Play!”, the stage adaptation of Mo Willems’s popular children’s book series. Many adventures of the famous duo have been captured in this lively one-act musical that young audiences will certainly enjoy.
The play takes place on a day when anything is possible for Gerald (otherwise known as Elephant) and Piggie. And while they admit they are very different, they firmly believe their unshakable friendship will get them through anything. Throughout the show, we see story elements from many books in the series, including I Am Invited to a Party!, Elephants Cannot Dance!, and Listen to My Trumpet. In fact, the entire show is a variation on We Are in a Book!. Throughout it all, the duo see their friendship tested while learning about concepts like sharing and forgiveness.
Director and choreographer Kayla Dunbar has put together a larger-than-life theatrical experience that will keep kids entertained and in awe. For example, Shizuka Kai’s brightly coloured Dr. Seuss–like sets, with images of story-themed items such as stars, ice cream, trumpets, and top hats splashed across them, make for a visual treat for the young ones, while providing a fun playground for the characters to go about their business.
To eliminate the potential awkwardness of actors dressing up as a literal elephant and piglet, costume designer Kiara Lawson goes down a different route. Instead, Gerald is dressed in a conservative grey outfit, accented by an argyle sweater, while Piggie is all pink, including pink hair and overalls.
They look so human, the rest is left up to the audience’s imagination. But with the performances of Tom Pickett (Gerald) and Kelli Ogmundson (Piggie), it’s a breeze. Pickett’s gentle demeanour, which vanishes when he gets overly excited, and Ogmundson’s sparkling exuberance bring the characters to life. Highlights include Gerald’s passionate plea for Piggie to stay in “Don’t Go”, and Ogmundson’s feistiness in “Toy Breaker”.
The trio of Synthia Yusuf, Merewyn Comeau, and Lindsay Warnock are sensational as a sassy girl group, the Squirrelles, livening up the musical numbers with their dynamite vocals and dance moves. Seated on-stage behind a keyboard, musical director Arielle Ballance doesn’t just keep the music and sound effects going—she’s always part of the action, playing the character of Pigeon, reacting to everything with huge animation.
Elephant & Piggie’s “We Are in a Play!” will delight kids (the recommended ages are three to eight) and parents, especially those who are fans of the books. The show’s participatory nature (as the actors often ask the audience questions), splashy theatricality, fun musical numbers, and lessons on friendship make this an entertaining and worthwhile experience for young children.