SCPA presents perfect introduction to live theater
Currently in production at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, “Elephant & Piggie’s ‘We Are in a Play!'” is based on the popular “Elephant & Piggie” book series by award-winning children’s author Mo Willems, with script and lyrics by Willems and music by Deborah Wicks La Puma.
Directed and choreographed by Melissa Rapelje, with musical direction by Melissa Cowell, the first part of the show follows Gerald (the elephant) and Piggie as they embark on a musical adventure solving problems and learning friendship etiquette with the help of the dancing trio, the Squirelles.
Eventually, the characters realize that they are in a play and engage the audience, having them join in by shouting out funny words like “banana,” clapping and doing the “Flippy Floppy Floory dance.” A nice touch is the conversational bubbles between Gerald and Piggie projected on a large screen on stage.
Bobby Montaniz is perfectly cast as Gerald. With the boundless energy of a young child, he jumps, skips and rolls on the floor, eliciting much laughter from the young audience. His rendition of “Ice Cream Hero” was very entertaining. Montaniz is always wonderful to watch, especially in children’s theater, and this performance is no exception. Piggie is played wonderfully by the talented Courtney Braun whose subtle wit and humor is spot on. The spunky Squirrelles, played by Allie Brault, Hayley Phaneuf and Samantha Foti, and the Ice Cream Penguin, played by Bella Lardaro, are a great supporting cast and do a terrific job.
Costumes by Ronald R. Green III are simple but effective. Montaniz’s gray jacket and pants, Braun’s pink outfit with striped tights and dark brown dresses for the Squirrelles reflect the characters’ animal traits and personalities.
For many young children in the audience, this was their first exposure to live theater, and the cast left quite an impression. Cooper Alberti, 2, of Babyon sat in the balcony with his father after deciding his original seat was a little too close to the stage. Grinning from ear to ear the entire time, he rocked back and forth to the music and clapped enthusiastically. His favorite characters were the Squirrelles and, according to his dad, Cooper loved all the singing and dancing.
Parents, a warning — the play is approximately an hour long with no intermission — so try to hit the bathrooms before the show. Stay after the show for autographs and photos with the cast.
The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown, will present “Elephant & Piggie’s ‘We Are in a Play!'” on weekends through April 11 (no show on Easter) with special Spring Break performances from April 6 to April 9 at 10:30 a.m. All tickets are $15. For more information, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.