Our family has been smitten with Elephant and Piggie ever since my son got his first Mo Willems book as a toddler.There is something so charming and pure about Elephant and Piggie. While they are usually incredibly fun and silly, they also are fantastic models for how to handle difficult situations in real life. Parents as well as children can relate to them.
Disclosure: I was given a complimentary tickets for the show in exchange for a review. As always, my opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure here.
Which is why we were so excited to be invited to see Bay Area Children’s Theatre’s Elephant and Piggie: We Are In A Play. The show, running weekends in Berkeley now through October 23rd, follows the two best friends as they try new things, overcome obstacles, and remain true to their friendship, no matter what.
As we drove across the bridge to the theatre in downtown Berkeley, I wondered how Bay Area Children’s Theatre would work their magic with these beloved, well known children’s characters. In this production, Gerald and Piggie are portrayed by two actors. I contemplated if my kids would totally “buy it” if they didn’t see the exact cartoon characters they know and love.
The minute we entered the theatre, though, all of my doubts left my mind. The circus themed theatre-in-the-round style seats made the BACT Berkeley Central Theatre feel intimate and inviting. I could see that my kids immediately suspended their disbelief and entered the world of the play.
The set is ground level, so before the show kids can interact with the set and dance on the stage. We also found the Pigeon being sneaky in the theatre!
Bri Reads is an excellent and true-to-form Piggie. She is charming and fun loving, captivating the audience with her magnetic energy. It’s obvious she’d done her Piggie research based on her body movements. Reads would bust out a cartwheel just because Piggie was happy, or stick out her tongue when she was thinking as Piggie does so often in the books.
In the same way, Iyana Colby immediately clicks as Elephant Gerald. Iyana perfectly plays Gerald as the sweet, grounded and sometimes anxious Elephant he is. Her powerful singing voice shines in some of the bigger ballads like “Don’t Go” and “Ice Cream Hero”.
Together, the two of them rocked as Gerald and Piggie. Their sustained energy through the entire 60 minute show was infectious and spoke directly to the children in the room. They perfectly embodied the childlike personas of Gerald and Piggie.
The two main characters are supported by four Squirelles; Morgan Claire Roberts, Ali Travis, Courtney Anne Nelson and Jordan Taylor. They bring great energy and fantastic comedic timing to the show. Morgan Claire Roberts’ Delivery Dog is especially memorable.
What to Expect
A Bay Area Children’s Theatre show is a fantastic way to introduce young children to live performances. Kids are expected to move around in their seats and whisper questions or make comments during the show.
In the lobby there are multiple play spaces where kids can spend time coloring, reading or playing pretend. If children need to get up during the show, they can watch what’s happening on stage via a screen in the lobby as well.
For children who may get anxious about the unknown, Bay Area Children’s Theatre has provided this Social Story.
When you arrive, you’ll be asked to show proof of COVID-19 vaccine or a picture of a negative test, taken within 24 hours. There will also be temperature checks for all patrons, and masks must be worn at all times. Learn more about the COVID check-in process here.
The BACT Berkeley Central Theatre is located at 2055 Center Street in Berkeley. It’s within 1 block of the Downtown Berkeley BART station.
If you’re driving, there is paid parking at Center Street Parking Garage. The parking rate is $2.50 per hour, up to 4 hours. (Daily max is $25.)
For tickets, visit BACTheatre.org. Lap children under two do not need a ticket.
This show will sell out, so grab your tickets now!
Elephant and Piggie: We Are In A Play is written by Mo Williems, with music by Debra Wicks La Puma. Directed by Scottie Woodard, Musical Direction by Grace Renaud.