BWW Review: Young Audience Squeals with Delight at THREE LITTLE PIGS
Judging by the squeals of delight from the youngsters attending MSMT's second Theatre for Young Audiences production of THREE LITTLE PIGS, the familiar nursery rhyme made into a musical by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe proved to be a great hit! The fifty-five minute retelling of the tale of the three piglets who leave home to make their way in the world and must outsmart the Big Bad Wolf to survive is told with charm, wit and a touch of contemporaneity and gentle messaging.
Stiles and Drewe's 2011 musical draws on the slender nursery rhyme of the Big Bad Wolf who, having eaten the piglets' father, now salivates for the rest of the family. When he finds them in newly built houses in the woods, he huffs and puffs and blows two homes down, before the band of siblings joins forces to outsmart him. Because the plot events are minimal, the show relies entirely on character, music, and dance to flesh the story out. In nine catchy tunes with adroit, amusing lyrics, the creators bring to life the narrative, adding to it the subtext of the importance of family, the valuing of individual strengths and weaknesses, and the respect for the laws of the earth and nature.
Raymond Marc Dumont directs and choreographs, keeping the pace brisk, the tone upbeat, the whimsy captivating. His choreography ranges from the jazzy numbers for the piglets to the Elvis-like gyrating for the wolf. Evan Cuddy provides the excellent musical direction and leads at the keyboards in the pit.
Presented on the main stage with the set of TREASURE ISLAND artfully disguised or utilized, Sean Cox's colorful two-dimensional scenery in predominantly pinks and greens with complementary bold, candy-colored lighting by Annalise C. Caudle appealingly evokes the fantasy atmosphere. Ryann Willard creates costumes that anthropomorphize the animals in just the right fairytale manner. Her clever pink jumpsuits and headpieces for the piglets, together with the gingham, curler-in-the-hair look for Mother Pig contrast nicely with the leather and fur outfit for the wolf. John Russell balances the sound effectively, while the crew headed by Stage Manager Mickey Acton (Mollie Heil, Assistant) and Technical Director Kimberly Kinan keep the action flowing and the sets unobtrusively moving.
The six-person youthful cast invests the narrative with a joyful energy and credibility, and all prove excellent vocalists and dancers. Each of the three little pigs sport different and well-defined personalities. Michael Ivan Carrier is Bao, the gentle, bookish brother, whose wisdom eventually proves the family's salvation. Nicholas Hall is appropriately macho and intellectually dim as Cha, the pig who relies on brawn rather than brains, while as Siu, Natalie Nicole Bellamy is a pert, pretty, and politically correct voice in the family. Mel Bills uses her warm, strong voice and sense of comic timing to portray a tender, motherly figure, while Andrew Carney delineates three very funny and different merchants who are essential to the plot. Cameron Wright has great fun with the scenery-chewing, song-belting role of the Big Bad Wolf; strutting, preening, menacing, cajoling, and it is he, who gets to interact with the audience, stirring up just that kind of delicious fear that adds drama to the story.
Not only does THREE LITTLE PIGS offer a welcome new title to MSMT's repertoire of children's shows, but it also adds a third production to what has traditionally been a two-show series. MSMT deserves every praise for expanding its commitment to young audiences and tirelessly seeking to introduce youth to the magic of live theatre.
Photo courtesy MSMT
THREE LITTLE PIGS plays in 4 performances (10 am, 1 pm, 4 pm, and 7:30 pm) at MSMT's Pickard Theater, 1 Bath Rd., Brunswick, ME www.msmt.org207-725-8769 The final TYA production will be Robin & Clark's THHE LITTLE MERMAID on August 19, 2019