BWW Review: ELEPHANT AND PIGGIE'S WE ARE IN A PLAY Opens at the Coterie Theatre in Kansas City
A summer treat for the kiddies in ELEPHANT AND PIGGIE'S "WE ARE IN A PLAY" opened Friday, June 14 at the Coterie Theatre in Kanas City. Directed by Shanara Gabrielle the children's musical written by Mo Willems concludes the 40th season for the theater. Willems author of the popular Elephant and Piggie book series wrote the script and lyrics for the stage. Deborah Wicks La Puma wrote the music for the play with musical direction is by Anthony T. Edwards.
Marc Wayne created the lively choreography for the production and Georgianna Londre` Buchanan provided the costume design. Buchanan is a highly sought after costume designer in Kansas City and works for many of the local theaters.
ELEPHANT AND PIGGIE'S is a musical look at friendship that echoes with the children in the audience and adults alike. The Elephant and Piggie books look at the endurance of friendship helped it become one of the best-selling young readers series in the past decade. Debuting in 2007, the book series has twice been awarded the Theodr Seuss Geisel Medal, along with having two of the titles appear on TIME Magazines To 10 Children's Books of the Year.
The play opens with best-friends Elephant and Piggie getting together and deciding what to do for the day. Piggie convinces Elephant they can do anything they put their minds to. To each suggestion, Piggie makes Elephant counters with an objection. She finally convinces him that anything is possible, just as she gets an envelope in the mail. To their delight inside the envelope is an invitation to a party. The antics continue at the party where they meet up with the Squirrelles, who become their back-up singers. During the party Elephant and Piggie get excited when they discover they are in a play and at that point, the audience gets involved.
Jake Walker is fantastic as Gerald the Elephant. The energy between him and Shon Ruffin who plays Piggie fills the whole theater with laughter and excitement. Walker has previously appeared at the Coterie in RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, and RED BADGE VARIATIONS among others. He has performed at The Unicorn Theatre, New Theatre Restaurant, Kansas City Actors Theatre, and the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival.
Shon Ruffin is outstanding as the encouraging friend Piggie. She has a wonderful voice and her facial expressions and body language bring her character to life. She appeared in the original cast of the Coterie's first production of ELEPHANT AND PIGGIE'S. She has appeared at the Coterie in ROSA PARKS, MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT, and A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS. She has performed with The New Theatre Restaurant, Spinning Tree Theatre, and the Black Repertory Theatre.
The Squirrelles is made up of the Coterie Resident Artist Roan Ricker, Catera Combs, and Kimberly Horner. The three have delightful voices and harmonize wonderfully. All three have previously appeared at the Coterie and Horner was another original cast member of ELEPHANT AND PIGGIE'S.
ELEPHANT AND PIGGIE'S "WE ARE IN A PLAY" continues at the Coterie through August 4. Purchase tickets online at www.thecoterie.org.
Photo by J. Robert Schraeder and courtesy of The Coterie Theatre