By Heidi Sutton
If you are a parent or grandparent of young children, then you are most likely familiar with the young reader books by award-winning author and illustrator Mo Willems. There’s the “Knuffle Bunny” and “Pigeon” series (“Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” is a personal favorite) and his latest “Cat the Cat” series, among others.
Willems devoted most of his time, however, to writing the “Elephant and Piggie” series, 25 books in total. From the first, “My Friend Is Sad,” to the last, “The Thank You Book,” Gerald the elephant and his “bestus” friend, a pig named Piggie, learn common etiquette rules for friendship.
Now through Aug. 20, young visitors to the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts can enjoy the musical Elephant & Piggie’s “We Are in a Play!” which pays homage to the popular book series with script and lyrics by Willems and music by Deborah Wicks La Puma.
The script is based mostly on Elephant and Piggie’s “We are in a Book!” but draws from other stories including “I Am Invited to a Party,” “Elephants Cannot Dance,” “Should I Share My Ice Cream?” and “I Love My New Toy,” resulting in an adorable show that is too cute for words.
Directed and choreographed by Courtney Braun, with musical direction by Melissa Cowell, the first half of the show follows Gerald (Christian Arma) and Piggie (Samantha Foti) as they learn to share, how to get ready for a fancy-costume pool party hosted by the Squirelles (Sarah Juliano, Maria Simeone and Emily Keleher) and grasp the act of forgiveness.
Eventually, Gerald and Piggie notice that there is an audience watching them and then, much to the delight of the younger children, have them shout out the word “banana,” clap their hands and do the “Flippy Floppy Floory dance,” the perfect ending to a wonderful morning of live theater.
The adult cast of five all give top rate performances and boy can they sing! Costumes by Ronald R. Green III reflect the character’s animal traits and personalities with Arma’s glasses, gray vest and pants, Foti’s pink skirt with striped tights and the Squirrelles brown dresses and long brown wigs.
Please note that running time is one hour with no intermission, so try to hit the bathrooms ahead of time. Snacks will be sold in the lobby and booster seats are available. Meet the cast in the lobby after the show for photos and autographs. An autograph page is conveniently located on the back page of the program.
The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 East Main St., Smithtown will present Elephant & Piggie’s “We Are in A Play!” through Aug. 20 followed by Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” from Sept. 16 to Oct. 29. All seats are $15. To order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.