I’m fairly convinced anything Mo Willems touches turns to gold.
He earned six Emmy Awards for his work on Sesame Street, and also has animation credits at Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. He’s a New York Times Bestselling children’s author with three Caldecott honor awards, two Theodor Seuss Geisel medals (did I mention he did this AFTER becoming a stay-at-home dad?), and he also happens to be a playwright.
Elephant & Piggie’s We are in a Play!
We had the amazing privilege of attending the Chicago premiere of Mo Willems’ show Elephant & Piggie’s We are in a Play! as performed by Emerald City Theatre at the Apollo this weekend. As to be expected Willems and Emerald City did not disappoint.
Gerald and Piggie are the stars of Willems’ Elephant & Piggie early reader series (of which my family has read and LOVED every single one). We are in a Play! is a story about their unlikely and hilarious friendship where they learn about taking turns, sharing, being compassionate, showing you care, and always telling the truth. Fans of the reader series will notice how the play incorporates eight of the Elephant & Piggie books with a delightful finale both creative and touching.
The Elephant & Piggie books are clever and funny to the core, and Mo Willems seamlessly wove together eight of them into one incredible stage play. Accented by musical numbers, the hour we spent at the Apollo did not have the feeling of a library story time, but rather the invitation into Gerald and Piggie’s real-live story. My favorite part of the play was the final tribute to Elephant & Piggie’s We Are in a Book!, spun so perfectly for a live audience.
Emerald City’s use of props and staging always impresses me, and because they were so simple for this show, the costumes really took center stage. Gerald and Piggie are an elephant and a pig, and Emerald City’s take on their costuming was innovative and creative. The remaining three cast members (the Squirrelles) wore gorgeous, colorful, sparkly gowns that changed with every scene. The pictures just cannot capture what sequins and stage lights do in live theater.
So often in children’s theater it’s a toss up between the acting and the singing, with one, unfortunately, being less-than for the performance. Not so with Emerald City’s Squirrelles. The Squirelles were written into Gerald and Piggie’s adventures for the play only, and they were FANTASTIC. They were amazing and smart and their vocals were SO tight they played like main characters, not secondary ones.
Gerald & Piggie
Let’s face it, sometimes it’s hard to make the leap from a book to the stage, especially when you are attempting to take on a popular character, but David Wesley Mitchell and Rachel Shapiro so carefully captured the essence of Gerald and Piggie it felt like they were actually there. They were perfect and we loved them!
Show Run and Ticket Information
- Elephant & Piggie’s We are in a Play! runs February 14 – May 16, 2015 at the Apollo Theater in Lincoln Park. Performances take place at various times weekends and weekdays. Visit Emerald City’s website for the complete schedule.
- Tickets begin at $15 for children and adults (before fees). A limited number of $10 tickets are available for each performance. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster.
- The Apollo has parking available for $10 per car, but there is ample free and metered street parking on Lincoln Ave. as well.
Special thanks to Katie Abascal from Emerald City for connecting us with this opportunity.
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