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‘Little Red Riding Hood & the 3 Little Pigs’ at The Puppet Co. by Julia L. Exline

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FOUR STARS
The Puppet Co. presents Little Red Riding Hood & the 3 Little Pigs, a melding of two beloved childhood stories told through the viewpoint of their shared villain—The Big Bad Wolf. Allan Stevens directs this twist on a couple of classics, written and composed by Puppet Master and Designer Christopher Piper, who also performs this show alongside Tony Strowd.

The set, also designed by Allan Stevens, shows a dual-leveled forest, as well as sceneries that are able to unravel when needed, like each of the 3 pig’s houses and Red Riding Hood’s grandmother’s cottage. Background music is played for the character’s songs, the most memorable being the rhythmic beats that accompany the wolf’s rap segments.The puppets used in this production are rod puppets, and, like all of The Puppet Co. shows, they are the real “wow” factor; detailed, colorful, and maneuvered with a whimsical grace by the puppeteers

Little Red Riding Hood.  Photo courtesy of the Puppet Co.

Little Red Riding Hood. Photo courtesy of The Puppet Co.

The show begins with the Big Bad Wolf, who, he assures the crowd, is simply misunderstood. He assures the crowd (though rap), that the stories that are about to be told are the real truth, and with that, three sibling pigs come onto the stage, the eldest (Michael) arguing with his brothers, David and Gregory. Michael is anxious to get started on building his home so that he may be safe from predators, but the other two pigs are content to wait, lazing about while singing about the life of a pig and looking for their next snack. As Michael chops down trees to make room for his house, David leaves a trail of food wrappers and trash as he meanders through the forest, finally deciding to whip up a house out of straw, because it is fast and easy. The wolf sees the deforestation and clutter and becomes upset (turns out, he is quite the environmentalist) and seeks out the offenders to scold them, while rapping about the problem that is littering. He finds Gregory first, who sympathizes, having constructed his house out of fallen tree branches so as not to ruin the environment. However, his brothers are not as receptive to the company of a wolf, and mistake some pesky winds for a wolf’s rage when the ill-built houses are blown away. Wolf is shooed away in disgrace.

This brings him to Red Riding Hood, who all the while has been walking through the forest selling cookies so that she may buy red boots to match her hood. In a cute moment, Riding Hood scares the Wolf away and slowly lures him towards her with a cookie. Turns out, the Wolf has quite the sweet tooth, and follows Red to her grandmother’s house with hopes of more treats…but instead just gets more confusion, mix-ups, and accusations. Can the Wolf save his reputation?

Taking a common character from two different stories and melding them together is an interesting venture—though it did feel a bit unbalanced. The Three Little Pigs plot seemed much more developed to me than that of Little Red Riding Hood, which almost made her seem like an afterthought addition. However, the show was still enjoyable, and the puppets are always thrilling to watch. Indeed, while walking up to the venue, a child ran past me, full of excitement, yelling, “YAY! IT’S PUPPET TIME!” I’ve got a couple of decades on this kid, and yet, I have to admit that I felt the same way.

The Three Little Pigs. Photo courtesy of The Puppet Co.

The Three Little Pigs. Photo courtesy of The Puppet Co.

Running time is 45 minutes, without an intermission.

Little Red Riding Hood & the 3 Little Pigs plays through March 10, 2013 at The Puppet Co.—7300 MacArthur Boulevard, in Glen Echo, MD. For tickets, call (301) 634-5380, or purchase them online.

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