Life lessons come from children’s popular Elephant & Piggie books

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By Bob Evans

Adorable, sweet, charming, simple, educational, and filled with happy song only begins to describe The Coterie’s newest production: “Elephant and Piggie’s ‘We Are in a Play” that opened Friday, April 7 at the well-respected children’s theater in Crown Center, featuring a script and Lyrics by Mo Willems, music by Deborah Wicks La Puma, and directed by Shanara Gabrielle.

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“When “bestus” friends Elephant and Piggie get together, anything is possible,” The Coterie said. They might get invited to a fancy costume party, learn a crazy new dance, or decide to spend the day playing ping-pong in silly hats. Well, they do all that and more in this lively and irresistibly charming musical featuring Elephant Gerald and Piggie, who are joined by their delightfully nutty back-up singers, the Squirrelles, as they discover the fun of being in a play – all the while encouraging the audience to join in for some interactive fun. Bring your bestie and share in the laughter and how good it feels to put friends first.”

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Audiences young and old will fall in love with Elephant and Piggie as portrayed by Jake Walker and Shon Ruffin. Both bring fireworks and charm to the show as evidenced by the young viewers ringside floor seating who giggled and wiggled with delight to the song and dance duo when Elephant and Piggie entered. Once they both appeared on stage and burst into the opening song, the lessons on friendship, trust, and forgiveness began emerging through songs and situations. Both performers treat the story with respect and just a bit of added exaggeration to keep the young audience focused. It works. The children smiled, laughed, applauded. The adults laughed as well.

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As their backup singers The Squirrelles, (kinda like the 60s group, The Shirrels) wore bright costumes as they sang and danced along with Elephant and Piggie. Everyone knows elephants can’t dance, and Gerald was no exception until he found his groove, impressed Piggie and The Squirrelles, and taught them his new dance moves. To the delight of the cast, it all worked out fine.

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The lessons of true friendship–being kind and thoughtful to your friends, caring for your friends, and learning to forgive and respect a friend–all spring from this show with so much to teach and entertain the targeted audience. Many lessons come from simple songs and lyrics aimed at the younger audiences. Overall, the kid-friendly show provides family entertainment for all ages.

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The cast of “We are in a Play!” is: Jake Walker (as Elephant), Shon Ruffin (as Piggie), and Rasheedat “Ras” Badejo, Kimberly Horner and Maggie Renee Marx (as The Squirrelles). The artistic and production company includes Shanara Gabrielle (director), Anthony T. Edwards (musical director), William J. Christie (Coterie resident stage manager), Alex Murphy (production stage manager), Zoë Still (set designer), Shane Rowse (lighting designer), Georgianna Londré Buchanan (costume designer), David Kiehl (sound designer), Bret Engle (properties), Scott Hobart (technical director), and Chloé Robbins-Anderson (production assistant/deck manager).

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SHOW DATES, TIMES & TICKETS

The Coterie, named “One of the Five Best Theaters for Young Audiences in the U.S.” by TIME magazine, continues its 38th season with Elephant & Piggie’s “We are in a Play!”, April 4 –May 21, 2017, in The Coterie Theatre, located on level one of the Crown Center shops in Kansas City, Missouri.

Individual Tickets: Tickets are $12.00 for youth under 18, students, and seniors age 60 and older; and $17.00 for adults.

Group Pricing: The Coterie offers groups of 20 or more a special preview rate of $5.00 per person the first week of the run, April 4-9, 2017. After preview week, groups pay only $5.50-$6.00 per person on weekdays and $6.50 per person on weekends (Friday nights,
Saturdays, and Sundays).

Subscriptions: In lieu of season subscriptions, The Coterie offers the Spotlight Pass, which et without committing to a set schedule. Spotlight Pass holders pay $100.00 for a flexible pass that includes 10 tickets – a savings of 40% off individual ticket prices that can be used for any show or combination of shows in the 2016/2017 Season.

All tickets and Spotlight Passes are on sale now and may be purchased by calling The Coterie’s box office at (816) 474-6552, dropping by the box office on level one of the Crown Center Shops, or by visiting The Coterie website.
Tags: The Coterie Theatre, Crown Center, “Elephant and Piggie ‘We Are in a Play’”, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City children’s theater

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