BWW Reviews: THREE LITTLE PIGS Entertains the Kids But Leaves Adults Wanting More
There's one phenomenon that sometimes happens at children's theater shows. The kids may be hooting, hollering, and smiling with glee while the stone-faced adults stare at their watches. It's a phenomenon that rarely happens at Zach Theatre. Their kid-centric shows often appeal to the adults in the room as well, but Three Little Pigs is the rare show that, while it entertains the tykes, won't get the adults to overlook the weaker points of the material, no matter how talented Zach's cast and crew may be.
It's not that all of the material in the hour long show is bad. Book writer and lyricist Anthony Drewe expands on the fairy tale by making the three pigs younger, giving them a mother, and answering one big question that often goes ignored: why are these piglets going into home construction in the first place? It's Drewe's writing partner, composer George Stiles, that fails to deliver. Stiles' melodies are dull and he gives the show more reprises than one would find in an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. It's shocking since Stiles and Drewe's claim to fame is their contribution of new songs to the stage version of Mary Poppins. In that show, their songs stand up next to classics like "Spoon Full of Sugar" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." Here, the songs have the same lack of foundation as a house of straw or sticks.
Despite the somewhat stale and uninspired material, the team at Zach Theatre makes the most of it. Gustavo Gomez, Amanda Serra, and Michael Marchese are all quite energetic and likeable as the three little pigs, named Cha, Si, and Bao. Each also gives their character a distinct personality. Gomez plays Cha as a macho meathead, Marchese plays Bao as a bookish nerd, and Serra plays Si as girly but tough enough to stand up to her brothers. Jacqui Cross brings a soulfulness and sweetness to the role of their mother, and Russel Taylor is hilarious as the 1950s inspired wolf, complete with leather jacket and pompadour hairdo. The design work is wonderful as well. Aaron Bell's revolving set is clever, especially when the time comes for the pigs to build their three custom homes, and Alana Anthony's costume design, which borrows heavily from Japanese street fashion, is a creative and unexpected surprise.
Though the material could be stronger, Zach's production of The Three Little Pigs is as strong as it can be, and the piglets in your clan are sure to be overjoyed.
THE THREE LITTLE PIGS plays the Kleberg Stage at Zach Theatre (202 S. Lamar, Austin 78704) now thru April 25th. Performances are Saturdays at 11am and 2pm. Tickets are $20 adults and $17 youth. For tickets and information, please visit www.zachtheatre.org