116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Elephant & Piggie didn’t know they were in a play until the show was almost over. The kids in the audience didn’t know they were the show before the play even began Sunday night on the outdoor stage behind Brucemore mansion.
The pint-size patrons were adorable as one group batted and kicked around a beach ball on the far right side of the seating area, while others closer to the middle played hand-clapping games, sported souvenir streamer headbands sold on-site, and tossed in the air their stuffed elephants, pigeons and piggies modeled after the Mo Willems books that inspired the play.
Yes, I did, indeed, see a pig fly.
What: Theatre Cedar Rapids presents Elephant & Piggie’s “We Are in a Play!”
Where: Peggy Boyle Whitworth Amphitheater, Brucemore estate, 2160 Linden Dr. SE, Cedar Rapids
When: To July 24; 6:30 p.m. Thursday to Sunday; gates open at 5:45 p.m.
Tickets: $25 adults, $15 ages 3 to 12, $10 ages 2 and under; TCR Box Office, (319) 366-8591 or theatrecr.org
Extras: Bring chairs, blankets, bug spray and picnics or purchase concessions on-site; service animals are allowed, pets are not
The fun continued during as kids chased the bubbles that blew through the breeze during and after the show. And who wouldn’t love seeing all the adults in the audience doing “Flippy Floppy Floory” arm movements, without very much coaxing at all.
This colorful Theatre Cedar Rapids production truly is fun for all ages, and continues Thursdays through Sundays, through July 24, on Brucemore’s Peggy Boyle Whitworth Amphitheater stage.
That’s the perfect setting for a sassy squirrel quartet — Jayna Gudenkauf, Shay Larson, Ava Macek and Kara Ramirez — whose harmonies blend beautifully when singing as the Squirrelles, the do-wop darlings who dart in and out of the scenes and scenery, and occasionally adopt other hilarious characters, as well.
Caleb Marner as Elephant Gerald and Kayla Lansing as Piggie have the best, best, bestus chemistry in the leading roles, complementing each other perfectly. Gerald is the worrywart and Piggie is his happy-go-lucky friend who always looks on the bright side of life.
Gerald sports elephant ears, and even turns his tie into a trunk a time or two. Otherwise, like all the others, he looks like a two-legged human as he dances and prances around a bit awkwardly at times. Kids eat up that kind of slapstick physical humor, and Marner pulls it off swimmingly.
Lansing is perky in pink with a twirly skirt, using equally exaggerated gestures that will keep the kids engaged. No need to stick a snout or hoofs on her — pigtails will do just fine. The characters are drawn as animals in the books, but costumer Bre Kenney made the wise decision to steer in another direction.
Mandy Masmar’s clever choreography steps to the lively beats of the music, precisely performed to taped accompaniment provided for the show.
“We're using tracks for the first time,” director Lisa Kelly told The Gazette in an earlier interview. “It gives us an opportunity for some cool sound effects, so it allows fun things to do. But it's been its own challenge, of having to time everything to a track that doesn't change.”
Kelly lets the actors have a ton of fun, romping across S. Benjamin Farrar’s bright and lively scenery, toting C.J. Mobberley’s cute props, from swim rings to silly hats and even a trumpet that Gerald says sounds more like his aunt than music.
So on a day full of possibilities, when nobody knows what’s going to happen, all it takes is a party invitation to unleash all sorts of anxiety, drama and delights. And while Gerald worries that something might happen to ruin his best-friendship, even when that just might happen, everything turns out lovingly in the end.
Adults: Do not worry about how to keep the kids enthralled for an hour. As soon as they hear the word “underwear,” they’ll be hooked. But be sure to listen for the jokes that will tickle your funny bones and fly right over the kids’ heads — like in the good old days when Saturday morning cartoons were actually hilarious for all ages.
Comments: (319) 368-8508; firstname.lastname@example.org