It isn’t everyday that you leave the theatre to the strain of your fellow audience members enthusiastically singing the songs of the show they’ve just sat through, and commenting vociferously on character, plot, stage-craft, and what was their favourite part, but then again it isn’t everyday that something over half the audience is aged less than four.
Such it is through with that perennial favourite The Three Little Pigs which has been given the full Stiles and Drewe makeover and for the next month is playing during the daytime at The Palace on Cambridge Circus as a rather strange bedfellow to The Commitments which is the ‘legit’ offering for matinee and evening performances. Whilst I haven’t seen The Commitments, I have to say The Three Little Pigs is a swine-derful, trotter-tapping little porker of a show which really brings home the bacon!
The story you will probably know, but it bears repeating.
Mother Pig decides the sty is too crowded so sends her three offspring Bar, Bee, and Q, off into the world where they are to build their own homes of straw, sticks, and bricks. The Big Bad Wolf huffs and puffs and is able to blow the first two down, but being foiled by the last tries to enter down the chimney where he unfortunately ends up being boiled alive in a big pot on the fire.
Put like that it probably sounds implausible that it will be at all entertaining, however, if I tell you that Mother Pig is multi-award winning icon Alison Jiear, her piglets are Leanne Jones (who won an Olivier for her performance as Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray), Taofique Folarin (fresh from playing Banzai in The Lion King), and Daniel Buckley (who originated the role of Marvin in Loserville) you’ll see that we have a seriously quality cast. Add to that Blue’s Simon Webbe as The Big Bad Wolf and the five people on stage are more than enough to bring the tale to life.
Rather cleverly each of the pigs is given a persona. One is something akin to an eco warrior, one is a gym obsessed health nut, and the third is a bookish and level-headed conformist who, needless to say, is the one who builds the house out of bricks and so saves the day. Some not-so-subliminal messages about working hard and studying to succeed in life going on there!
I should mention Ewan Jones’ choreography which is energetic and modern, and all the more impressively executed as Mother Pig and her three offspring are up-sized by wearing Jason Denvir’s clever half-body fat suits. Denvir is also responsible for the set which is simple but no less effective, and presumably had to be designed around that belonging to The Commitments.
All in all this is a little gem of a show and would make the perfect first theatre outing for any little person currently on summer holiday. Moreover, with Anthony Drewe’s clever and accessible lyrics, and George Stiles irresistible melodies I defy you to leave the theatre not singing the title song.
- Children Theatre
- Book & Lyrics: Anthony Drewe
- Director: Anthony Drewe
- Music: George Stiles
- Cast includes: Simon Webbe, Alison Jiear, Taofique Folarin, Leanne Jones, Daniel Buckley
- The Palace Theatre, London
- Until 6 September 2015
- Review by Richard Voyce