“The Three Little Pigs and Three Billy Goats Gruff,” on stage now at the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre, brings two classic stories to life with a little twist and lots of giggles from the audience.
In the first half of the show, the Three Billy Goats Gruff make their quest to the other – “better, nicer, yummier” – side of a “rickety, crickety” bridge, which is occupied by a mean, green troll, named Pierre Sous-Pont, played by recent Arkansas State University graduate Aleigha Morton. While the story mostly follows the classic tale, the ending takes a different turn. No spoilers here!
In the second half, the Three Little Pigs – Sleepy, Hungry and Clever – strive to make it on their own and build their own homes, despite Dennis, the mean, hungry wolf, on their trails. Dennis has a taste for “piggy pie” and does his best to destroy the pigs’ hard work and craftsmanship. “I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house down,” he says, hyperventilating and breathing into a paper bag as he tries to demolish the brick house.
Pierre makes an appearance in the second story too, as the “entrollpreneur,” who sells the pigs their straw, sticks and bricks to build their houses, and as a “friend” to the pigs in the end. Again, no spoilers!
The show is full of important lessons, like dealing with bullies, acceptance of others, the importance of hard work, which materials work best for home building, and, as the billy goats say, “always ask before you wander.”
Both stories are preformed on the same set with a big bridge in the background, and the pigs’ houses are brought in. An on-stage “taleteller,” played by Mark Hansen, keeps the stories flowing. The cast performs musical numbers in both stories with live percussion and keyboards and original music by Lori Isner.
While the show is mostly for kids, the dialogue is clever and humorous, so adults will likely enjoy it just as much. Resident playwright Keith Smith created the story and directed the show. Most of the theater’s company ¬– Jeremy Matthey, Cassandra Nary and Garrett Flood – have dual roles as pigs and billy goats. Jillian Kuhl plays Clever Pig, and Mattingly Bartole, an eighth-grader at Cabot Junior High South, plays Baby Billy.
The show lasts about an hour and 15 minutes. Performances are Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 3 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., through Feb. 10. Tickets are $12. Call (501) 372-4000 or go online (www.arkarts.com) for more information.