Photo by Jackie McCall
Amana—In our post-ironic age, it’s nice to see a good old straightforward telling of the story of the three little pigs. The Life and Times of the Three Little Pigs, by Gene Mackey, presented at the Old Creamery Theatre in their Theatre For Young Audiences series, is a delightful retelling of the age old tale of three pigs and the wolf who wants to eat them. I brought my 5 year old daughter Piper with me to get the view from the ground floor.
The narrator of the tale is T.J. Besler as the Peddler, who comes in and out of the pigs’ lives as the guy who sells them building materials for their homes as well as the fellow who manages their unlikely singing career. Because after all, they need money to pay for their straw, sticks, and bricks. The Peddler is the carrier of the humor for adults; after all, I’m pretty sure the children in the audience didn’t understand his list of pig philanthropists including John D. Porkefeller and Andrew Carnehog, or the fact that he called them “robber bacons.” But that’s okay, because shortly after he sings about “Once Upon a Once Upon a Time,” three pigs in the best piggish costumes I’ve ever seen come out to sing and dance. And just for fun, this time, the pigs are girls.
The pigs were Stacia McKee as Big, Maria Bartolotta as Tweeney, and Jackie McCall as Wee. They were all wonderful singers, and their porcine dancing was adorable. The costumes were big-hipped pink pajama type outfits, accented by aprons and featuring cute curly tails.
The pigs were each endearing in their own right. Big had a take charge attitude, taking care of her little sister pigs and reminding them of Mama Sow’s sage advice. Tweeney was fun and spunky, and Wee was the cute favorite of my own companion, who happens to be a youngest pig—er, child—herself.
|Nicholas Hodge as Wolf; Stacia McKee as Big|
Nicholas Hodges’ Wolf wasn’t particularly big, nor was he very bad, but if you have a kid who is particularly prone to fright you might just warn the child about the wolf. He kind of looks like a big furry stuffed animal shoved into a pair of overalls. He does run through the audience at one point, in about row two. He’s pretty easy to trick, though; as Piper noted, “I like when the wolf fell down the hole. And off the stage. And into the pot of water.”
Some parts of the story didn’t quite coalesce for me. The bricks cost the same as the straw and the sticks, for instance (one porkel each), and the introduction of the wood headed wamp-basher—just in time to frighten the wolf when Big gets a butter churn stuck on her head—felt a little forced. But of course, this is a show for little kids, who just like to see fun moments like wolves getting outwitted. It did trouble my own partner, though, when the two younger pigs disappeared and the focus of the play shifted to the relationship between the Wolf and Big Pig. The younger two do reappear at the end of the show.
The sweet spot for this show is probably about ages 3-9. Older kids might be too cynical to enjoy this fun romp.
One of the best parts of the play happened after the show, when each actor greeted the audience in the lobby and signed autographs. There’s a handy autograph box on the back of the program just for this purpose. Piper reports that the big bad wolf, who gave her a hug, was “soft.” The songs are great, too, and Piper and I spent the rest of the afternoon singing from Cheryl Benge’s score, “Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin, not by the curl of my little tail….”
The Life and Times of the Three Little Pigs plays on the Mainstage at Old Creamery for three more performances: April 6 at 1 p.m. and April 13 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tickets are $8.50 per person and reservations are recommended. Tickets are available via oldcreamery.com.