Elephant & Piggie’s We Are In A Play! at the Children’s Theatre Co.

Christopher Michael Richardson and Shinah Brashears in Elephant & Piggie's We Are In A Play!  Photo by Dan Norman.

Christopher Michael Richardson and Shinah Brashears in Elephant & Piggie’s We Are In A Play! Photo by Dan Norman.

Elephant & Piggie’s We Are In A Play! (at Childrens Theatre Co., though October 23) is for the youngest children. Keep this is mind when you confront the relentless shallowness, the repetition, the wimpy characterizations, the pointless energy, the predictability, the lack of an engaging story, the endless songs. You may want to hit the actors with a two by four, but the salient question is: did the kids like this show?

The kids loved it!

They were on the edge of their seats (well, they had to be; otherwise the seats would have folded up, enclosing them totally), they giggled (the word “underwear” brought down the house), they yakked at the cast, they sang, and they were raptly attentive. Sure, they got a bit squirrelly but kids that age always will. E&P is designed for the youngest of the young, and the young responded.

The play is stupidity… No, no, that’s not the right word. Simplicity! There ya go. Simplicity itself. Elephant (Christopher Michael Richardson) and Piggie (Shinah Brashears) prance about in front of a colored screen on a mostly bare stage. Anything is possible, they discover. So they skip, mime ping-pong, put on silly hats. A party invitation arrives. They go to the party. They eat oversized ice cream cones. They agonize about sharing aforesaid ice cream cones. Toys drop from the sky.

When energy flags (not that Brashears and Richardson often permit this) in come the Squirelles (Jennie Lutz, Justine Icy Moral, Caroline Wolfson). They dance and sing with zest and gusto.

And so on.

Elephant & Piggie’s We Are In A Play! it should be mentioned, was directed by Jerry Whiddon, with book and lyrics by Mo Willems and music by Deborah Wicks La Puma. Choreography by Jessica Hartman.

Okay. If you don’t have super-young children, save your dough. See Jitney at Penumbra, or Sense And Sensibility at the G.

But if you do have young children, think about making the investment. The kids will have a great time.

Or better yet (and this is my standard CTC advice): let Grandma and Grandpa buy the (expensive) seats while you imbibe beverages at your favorite beverage-selling emporium. Everyone will be happy.

John Olive is a writer living in Minneapolis. His screenplays A Slaying Song Tonight and The Deflowering Of Father Trimleigh are under option. Please visit his informational website.

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