Have fun with “Elephant & Piggie” at Zach Theatre

David Peña as Gerald the Elephant and Amanda Clifton as Piggie in the 2017 production of "Elephant And Piggie: We Are In A Play!" at ZachTheatre. Photo by Kirk Tuck
David Peña as Gerald the Elephant and Amanda Clifton as Piggie in the 2017 production of “Elephant And Piggie: We Are In A Play!” at ZachTheatre. Photo by Kirk Tuck

If your kids love the “Elephant & Piggie” books by Mo Willems, they will be rolling in the aisles of Zach Theatre’s Kleburg Theatre for “Elephant & Piggie’s: We are in a Play.”

The play explores themes of friendship. What happens when a friend breaks a toy? Do you stop being their friend? Of course not. Should you share your ice cream cone with your friend? Probably, though the mother in me that isn’t a fan of sharing germs, would have said, probably not.

It’s all done with larger-than-life movements and silly musical numbers. David Peña as Gerald the elephant has Gerald’s anxiety-filled personality down. Amanda Clifton as Piggie has fun with her carefree spirit.. Rounding out the cast is Megan Richards Wright, Jessica O’Brien and Kelly Petlin as the Squirelles, a girl group made up of squirrels.

The action is going along with Gerald and Piggie filling their day with fun games, going to a party and learning to dance, and then something happens. They look out and realize  … They are in a play!!!

Who are those people out there? Why, they are the audience! Soon, they have the audience clapping on cue, saying “banana” over and over again and then doing silly hand motions.

The kids in our audience were eating it up, especially, when they had the grownups do the hand motions.

The musical, directed by Abe Reybold and under the musical direction of Allen Robertson, isn’t deep, thought-proving theater, but it is fun and familiar. Kids preschool through early elementary school will have a ball.

We know this show will pick up a big audience because it’s based on well-loved, familiar books. We just hope that the same audience will also go see “JJ’s Arcade” in April. The bilingual show is written by University of Texas playwright José Casas and being produced by Zach Theatre and Teatro Vivo. Zach’s education department has become the best in town for theater for families through its pioneering bilingual productions. We look forward to seeing what it will do with “JJ’s Arcade.”

“Elephant and Piggie’s: We Are in a Play” 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through April 30 (except March 11). 11 a.m. Saturdays April 15, 22, 29. Sensory-friendly and sign-language interpreted 2 p.m. March 4. $16-$21. Zach Theatre’s Kleberg Theatre, 1421 W. Riverside Drive. zachtheatre.org 

Author: Nicole Villalpando

Nicole Villalpando writes about families in the Raising Austin blog and the Raising Austin column on Saturdays. She also offers a weekly and monthly family calendar at austin360.com/raisingaustin. She tweets at @raisingaustin.

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