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'Elephant & Piggie' make a happy trip from page to stage

Piggie and Gerald are stars.

They would be surprised to learn that.

Piggie and Gerald would say they are best friends. Stars are in the sky.

That is true. It also is true that Piggie and Gerald are starring in their own play on the stage of the Allendale Theatre, presented by the Theatre of Youth.

You should see it. You should take a friend or a child, or a child and the child’s friend, and spend an afternoon with Piggie and Gerald.

Piggie’s description is also Piggie’s name, and Piggie is played to pink perfection by Arin Lee Dandes. Piggie has pink ears, a pink dress and lots of pink petticoats.

Gerald is an elephant. Bobby Cooke plays Gerald, but he isn’t dressed like an elephant, except for the floppy ears. Instead he wears a baggy gray suit and a gray top hat, and when he talks he sounds exactly like Gerald.

We know how Gerald talks because every single child everywhere has read and loved the books by Mo Willems about Piggie and Gerald. Some of the books have become parts of the play: “I Am Going,” “Listen to My Trumpet,” “Elephants Can’t Dance” and, with one little “playful” tweak, “We Are in a Book.”

Just like in the storybook, part way through this delight of a show, Gerald and Piggie realize they are in a play. They also realize that they can have fun with the audience, like making everyone clap and say “Banana!” over and over.

Everyone thinks this is funny, especially, Gerald, who says, “I love tropical humor.”

Seriously now, or as serious as we can be when talking about Elephant and Piggie, this charmer of a show lives up to all expectations fans of the children’s picture books might have. Credit the fact that Willems wrote the script and the lyrics for the many fun songs. Who else would think to rhyme “horrible” and “adorable?”

Like the books, the play and its songs have clever wordplay, powerful emotion and an overwhelming amount of good will. They also have something the books don’t have: the Squirrelles as backup singers.

Alexandria Watts, Jenny McCabe and Sara Marioles shine as the happy chorus, and in a couple of other small roles, helping Gerald and Piggie through some tough situations and sharing their happiness when things (always!) work out.

Kids might not get all the jokes, as when Piggie talks about “the elephant in the room,” but they will total relate to problems like breaking a friend’s favorite toy, or figuring out how to fit in when going to a party.

And they will have the same reaction as Gerald does when he finds out that people are watching him and he is In A Play!

Gerald looks around, turns to Piggie and says, “That is SO Cool!”


4 stars (out of 4)

“Elephant & Piggie’s ‘We Are in a Play!’”

When: Through June 3

Where: Theatre of Youth at the Allendale Theatre, 203 Allen St.

Tickets: $26 to $28

Info: Recommended for ages 4 and up.

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