I could not say for sure whether my 6 year-old son or I had the most fun watching The Kennedy Center’s production of Elephant & Piggies We Are in A Play! We laughed, we cheered, we wiggle-waggled, and we were by no means alone. The show was one giant fun-fest and everyone in the audience was on board from the moment the lights went up.
Based upon the children’s series by Mo Willems, the play, directed by Jerry Whiddon, is comprised of several of Willems already published books altered ever so slightly to fit into one story line, with songs mixed in that manage to blow the already energetic show through the roof. Script and lyrics are also by Mo Willems and music is by Deborah Wicks La Puma.
Joe Mallon and Shayna Blass play Gerald and Piggie, respectively. Their characters could not have been more perfect, unless they somehow manage to actually morph into a talking elephant and pig. As a mom of three, who has read every single Mo Willems book enough times to know them all by heart, let me attest that the actors do these characters justice: Gerald’s worrisome nature; Piggie’s light and care-free ways. The duo is beautifully paired.
Joining the best friends on the stage are the fabulous Squirrelles, played by Jamie Eacker, Ashleigh King, and Allie Parris. They strut, they dance, and they harmonize like they were born to it. The presence these ladies commanded was amazing and their energy and moves were outstanding. Kudos to Jessica Hartman for the fun and flashy choreography, and to the Squirelles for their on-point execution.
The songs in the show are upbeat and range from over-the-top silliness in Gerald’s “Ice Cream Hero,” to tragic despair in Gerald’s “Don’t Go,” and even an epic tempter tantrum in Piggie’s “Toy Breaker.” The stunning Squirelles, dressed up as 70s style doo wop girls, have beautiful voices with perfectly blended backup harmonies that make pretty much every number a showstopper.
The definite crowd favorite and showstopper was “We’re in a Play,”which got the whole audience involved with ‘call and response,’ including the adults. The audience participation was fun for the kids and, while the adults might have been slower to join in, everyone’s hands were waving in the air by the end of the number. My son loved it!
If you are unfamiliar with Mo Willem’s work, this show would be the perfect introduction for you and your family. The stories are fun, touching, and relatable to all ages. You don’t need to have an understanding of the series in any way to enjoy this engaging production.
Elephant & Piggies We Are in a Play! is fantastically fun from beginning to end. The program says the show is best suited for ages 3 and up, but parents, grandparents, and older siblings alike could all benefit from the pure unadulterated joy that this show provides. Don’t miss out!
Running Time: 1 hour, with no intermission.
Elephant & Piggies We are in a Play! plays through January 3, 2016 at The Kennedy Center’s Family Theater – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC . For tickets, call the box office at (202) 467-4600, or purchase them online.