6abc Loves the Arts: Elephant and Piggie

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From page to the stage: The Kimmel Center is presenting a play for children based on an award-winning book series. (WPVI)

From page to the stage: The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts is presenting a play for children based on an award-winning book series.

The series is called "Elephant and Piggie," and it debuted in 2007 as two children's books that are now part of a best-selling and much beloved series of 25 books and a musical.

It's all created by Mo Willems, who got his start as a writer and animator for Sesame Street.

"He creates these great stories of the misadventures of animals in their world, sort of discovering things about friendship and trust," said Frances Egler, Director of Programming at the Kimmel Center.

"Elephant and Piggie: We Are In A Play!" is a vaudevillian romp of a musical where audiences are invited to follow along for a day in the adventurous life of a melancholy elephant named Gerald and a perky pig called Piggie.

"They suddenly one day discover that they are in a play," said Egler. "And they're on stage, and they look out and see the audience, and they put on a whole musical together."

The elephant and pig have backup singers, the Nutty Squirrels, as they dance and sing beyond the stage.

"They'll come into the audience," said Egler. "They'll talk to the children and their families. They definitely are getting the kids to feel like they are part of the show."

The tale was first brought to the stage in 2013 by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The musical is now on a 20-city national tour that makes its first stop of the New Year at the Merriam Theater.

"It's about learning how to make a friend," said Egler, "learning how to be a good friend even when you're as different as an elephant and a pig."

Created for children 4 and up, it's part of the Kimmel Center's Family Discovery Series, which introduces children to the art of theater.

"It's very similar to having a fun day of play, and it's all about interaction, and it's all about kids," said Egler. "I'm sure they'll be dancing as much as elephant and piggie are.
"Elephant and Piggie: We Are in A Play!" is at the Merriam Theater through January 21, with a special presentation for school students on the 20th.

For tickets and show times go to theartsinphilly.org.
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