Tuesday, 5 January 2016

The Three Little Pigs, (UK), Jan 2, 2015 ****1/2


Music by George Stiles, book & lyrics by Anthony Drewe, produced by Kenny Wax Family Entertainment, presented by Arts Centre Melbourne 
Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne, until Jan 17, 2015 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: 4 & 1/2 
Review also in print in Herald Sun on Tues Jan 5, 2016 (TBC).
This pic is the UK cast. No pics available of the UK cast visiting Melbourne.

Picture three plump, pink singing piglets with their frazzled, single mother and you have the children’s musical version of The Three Little Pigs that premiered on the West End in 2015.

This vibrant, swift-paced production is billed as a ‘very curly musical tale’ and boasts singable music by George Stiles with a witty book and lyrics by Anthony Drewe, the award-winning writers of new songs for the stage show of Mary Poppins.

Mother Pig (Lizzie Bea), whose husband was eaten by the Big Bad Wolf (Taofique Folarin), urges her three, dependent piglets, Bar (Mark Anderson), Bee (Sam Toland) and Q (Daniel Buckley) to leave the sty and move into their own homes.

Yes, if you run their names together you get ‘BarBeQue’, which is just what the Wolf plans to do to them to make yummy, pork crackling.

The piglets pack their swags, leave Mum’s pigsty and, after endless arguments, decide to live separately in three houses: eco-friendly Bee builds with straw, muscular Bar uses sticks while Q the bookworm constructs a brick house.

The Big Bad Wolf – who looks like a street rapper and is just ‘a bit misunderstood’ – huffs and puffs to blow down their houses so he can eat the piggies but he ends up falling into a boiling pot of vegetable stew, despite the piglets’ warnings.

The script has plenty of witty, piggy puns for adults (‘hogs and kisses’), slapstick for children and a moral that suggests that, if you work as a team and value everyone’s skills, you will succeed.

Drewe’s direction is swift and slick while Ewan Jones’ choreography is funny and Jason Denvir’s design is colourful and engaging for children.

The lyrics advance the story and illuminate the characters in songs including: One, Two Three Little Pigs, A Real Pigsty, A Little House and Perfect for A Pig.

A highlight is the tight, three- and four-part harmonies by Anderson, Toland, Buckley and Bea, all of whom have fine, musical theatre voices.

The songs and physical comedy enthrall the young audience, although some of the dialogue-heavy scenes do not hold the attention of the children under four.

This peppy musical, with its updated fairy tale narrative and cute characters, is a rollicking good time for families who want to get out of the summer heat and sing along with some clever songs.

By Kate Herbert

Mother Pig: LIZZIE BEA 

Book & Lyrics/Director: ANTHONY DREWE
Music/Musical Supervisor: GEORGE STILES
Associate  Director/Choreographer: EWAN JONES

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