Review: The Three Little Pigs (Emerald City Theatre)

| February 17, 2014
Mary Margaret Roberts stars as Siu in Emerald City Theatre's "The Three Little Pigs" by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, directed by Ernie Nolan. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)        
      
The Three Little Pigs

Music by George Stiles 
Book and Lyrics by Anthony Drewe 
Directed by Ernie Nolan
at Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln (map)
thru May 17  |  tickets: $10-$16   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     


  
  

A good time was oinked by all

     

Micah Kronlokken, Mary Margaret Roberts and Cameron Benoit star in Emerald City Theatre's "The Three Little Pigs" by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, directed by Ernie Nolan. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)

    
Emerald City Theatre presents
    
The Three Little Pigs

Review by Kat Hey

Chicago was a stockyard town when I was growing up. Carl Sandburg pronounced it “hog butcher to the world,” and now the kids of Chicago can be in hog heaven with another production of The 3 Little Pigs. This lively and funny version of the children’s classic bedtime story is from the same team behind the Broadway production of Mary Poppins. The performances are engaging and – much much to my pleasant surprise – the story has not been simplified nor does the script talk down to the audience.

James Nedrud in Emerald City Theatre's "The Three Little Pigs" by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, directed by Ernie Nolan. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)Yes, there are some flashes of reality in this tale of porcine ingenuity. We meet Mama (Rachel Pallante) who is in mourning for Papa Pig having been devoured by the Big Bad Wolf (James Nedrud). Pallante plays Mama in a style reminiscent of the big character icons such as Rosalind Russell and Bette Midler. She has a powerhouse voice and gets to play a range of characters, including some convenient vendors of straw, sticks, and bricks.  We meet Boa (Cameron Benoit), Cha (Micah Kronlokken), and Siu (Mary Margaret Roberts) just as it is time for them to fly the sty and make their way in the world.  Mama cannot afford to feed them any longer and gives them the advice to always stick together.

Benoit, Kronlokken, and Roberts have the chemistry of siblings and play on that strength and it appeals to both the parents and the children in the audience. Boa always has his head in a book and is the logical one. Cha is a muscle head who is the bully teasing his siblings and believing he is always right. Siu is relegated to more of a traditional feminine role – a choice I find to be disappointing on the part of the writers, but fortunately Roberts bright presence and vocal chops make it work. (Why can’t the girl be the smart one who builds her house out of bricks? If it’s going to be ‘gender blind’ then go whole hog. <pun intended!>)

Nedrud channels a bit of Elvis and the Big Bopper for this incarnation of the Wolf. Sporting a leather jacket, pompadour, and a voice made for musicals, Nedrud’s Wolf is hysterically funny and the one-liners abound with double entendre. It has to be said that he scared some of the audience members into literally weeping and hiding under their parents. I am sure that some would say that is reason enough to tame down the ferocity of the character, but a moral tale needs a believable bad guy, and Nedrud makes a great bad guy. When he snarls “Hmm… I’m feeling puckish”, it is just menacing enough and hilarious as well. The character is broadly drawn and perfectly delineated by Nedrud’s performance.

Rachel Pallante, Cameron Benoit, Micah Kronlokken and Mary Margaret Roberts in Emerald City Theatre's "The Three Little Pigs" by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, directed by Ernie Nolan. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)

The songs are enjoyable, with a tendency to put hip hop influence into some of it to inject coolness. The effect is the opposite when it comes to the choreography – it’s too stiff and deliberate to be cool. Designer Nathan Rohrer’s costumes are simple and cute, with little curly tails to complete the package. The Wolf’s big tail and mangy visage are great fun, though the snouts tend to muffle the sound (realignment of the microphones might be considered).  The sets and props (designed by Jenniffer Thusing, Robert Groth and Tierra G. Novy) are well done and move around the stage smoothly. When Wolf plummets down the chimney it is done with a puppet to big laughs from the kids (and young at heart). There is no attempt to be master puppeteers and the visible fishing line is a wink and acknowledgement of being in on the joke.

Director Ernie Nolan does a great job with the pacing of this production. Not a cue is missed and the action flows smoothly. The cast is very adept at not being distracted by chatty or bawling toddlers. This is quite enjoyable children’s theater, and the adults can enjoy it as well. As mentioned earlier, the Wolf really spooked some of the more impressionable tots. Use your own discretion but it is a great lesson in friendship and sticking together in whatever makes up a family.

     
Rating:
  
   

The Three Little Pigs continues through May 17th at the Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln (map), with performances Saturdays and Sundays at 10am and 1:30pm, with student matinees on weekdays at 10:15am.  Tickets are $10-$16, and are available by phone (773-935-6100) or online through TicketMaster.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at EmeraldCityTheatre.com(Running time: 45 minutes, no intermission. Note: Best suited for ages 5-10)

Cameron Benoit, Micah Kronlokken, Mary Margaret Roberts, Rachel Pallante and James Nedrud in Emerald City Theatre's "The Three Little Pigs" by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, directed by Ernie Nolan. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)

Photos by Tom McGrath 


     

artists

cast

Cameron Benoit (Boa), Micah Kronlokken (Cha), Mary Margaret Roberts (Siu), Rachel Pallante (Mama), James Nedrud (Wolf)

behind the scenes

Ernie Nolan (director), Leslie Cobb (stage manager), Jaci Entwisle (asst. stage manager), Robert Groth and Jenniffer Thusing (set design), Nathan Rohrer (costume design), Tierra G. Novy (prop design), Amanda Sager (sound design), Jeff Glass (light design), Michelle Underwood (video design), Nav’ Afshar (production manager), Tom McGrath (photos)

James Nedrud and Cameron Benoit in Emerald City Theatre's "The Three Little Pigs" by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, directed by Ernie Nolan. (photo credit: Tom McGrath)

14-0159

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: 2014 Reviews, Children's Theatre, Emerald City Theatre, K.D. Hopkins, Musical

Comments (0)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

There are no comments yet. Why not be the first to speak your mind.

Comments are closed.