From Chicago Theater Beat
Porkicide in Piggsylvania! Or was it???
January 21, 2014
By Kat Hey
Everyone deserves their day in court should they be accused of a heinous crime. What about when the reputation of the accused is so widely known and there are factors weighing against them? Lifeline Theatre presents a delightful musical that answers these questions in language that any little piggy er… I mean child can understand.
The story, based on the book by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, is presented as a news story being followed by the media and wannabe star reporter Magill (Diana Coates). Magill announces the trial and her wanting to get the real scoop as if it were PNN (Pig Network News), even though she is just trying to get her hoof in the door. Coates has the requisite bubbly enthusiasm and looks mighty fine with the cute ears and snout.
David Sajewich brings a sweet and nerdy side out in Alexander T. Wolf a.k.a. Big Bad (but please call him Al.). Sajewich resembles more of a sweet puppy than a vicious lupine. He howls his way through the Wolf Blues, and even moonwalks with grace and ease.
Al (a.k.a. Big Bad) is led out of the pen and into the courtroom of Judge Prudence (Allison Cain) and prosecuting attorney Julia (Amanda Roeder). Cain and Roeder have lines that seem to be custom made for Chicago politics. In other words, the fix is in, and that it’s all about who you know in Piggsylvania — not to mention that the two play golf together at the same club of which Al cannot be a member. When Cain enters they rap ‘here comes the judge,’ which is from the late chitlin’ circuit comic Pigmeat Markham. (I think that I may have been the only one in the house that caught that but one never knows.) Roeder is in fine comic form as the blustery prosecuting attorney who would be called a barracuda, were it not for her porcine genetics. Marissa Lessman rounds out the cast in a quadruple feat of amazement. Lessman plays Rocky the Bailiff, Bobby the doctor and expert witness, Martha the cola bottle glass wearing eye witness, and Maxwell the surviving pig. The best laughs come from Martha, who is right out of a John Waters movie with her outfit and mannerisms. Maxwell is also a great character as a pig with a trade in masonry.
The show is scored quite well, with catchy melodies and fun choreography. The storyline doesn’t talk down to the children nor does it clean up the story where they all escape to the brick house. The ill-prepared pigs become dinner for sure because a wolf has got to do what a wolf does. The story I remember is that the third pig put a boiling kettle at the bottom of the chimney and had wolf stew. That was deemed too gruesome but at least the kids get to know where ham comes from in this rendition.
Was it-premeditated porkicide? The fun is having the audience as the jury and they have to oink, squeal, and snort the verdict. I’m not revealing our verdict but I trust that all the little piggies in the audience will see that justice is done for Alexander T. Wolf.
Lifeline does an excellent job of bringing children’s stories to the stage. The set for this production is top notch. It resembles a hyper-real game show set with lights flashing and beautifully painted props. I highly recommend this show for kids and adults as well. The show runs 1 hour and there is a chance to meet the cast after the show for photo-ops and autographs. You’ll have a squealing good time!
From the Chicago Reader
January 15, 2014
By Suzanne Scanlon
Lifeline Theatre wants us to consider the wolf in the latest installment in its KidSeries, a lively musical adaptation of the popular children’s book by the same name. Audience members play along as piggy-jurors in a highly corrupt if entertaining courtroom in Piggsylvania. Judge Prudence (Allison Cain) presides, but only sort of: her fondness for show tunes and puppetry keeps things from getting too serious. After a series of unreliable witnesses, the much-maligned wolf gets to tell his side of the story. He doesn’t offer the most convincing defense, but it’s hard not to fall for him as he soft-shoes and howls his carnivorous path to freedom. The kids in the audience enjoyed it, and it was lots of fun for the four grown men — sans kiddos — behind me, too.
From Make It Better
Lifeline’s “3 Little Pigs” is a Hit
January 21, 2014
By Beth Engelman
Looking for a way to chase the winter blues? Look no further than Lifeline Theatre’s new musical production, “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!”
This musical, based on the popular book by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, turns the classic story on its head. Audiences will “squeal” with delight as they hear both sides of the Pig versus Wolf tale. Is Alexander T. Wolf a big, bad pig-eating monster, or is he just a helpless carnivore with a cold? It will be up to the jury/audience to decide as the plaintiff and prosecutor sing, dance and charm their way through the courtroom comedy.
The play was creatively adapted for stage by ensemble member Robert Kauzlaric, whose credits also include writing the stage adaptation of Lifeline’s “Naked Mole Gets Dressed.” Lifeline’s Amanda Link directed the production while William Rush and Paul Gilvary composed the toe-tapping songs.
“The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!” features Amanda Roeder as feisty prosecutor Julia and David Sajewich as her courtroom nemesis, Alexander T. Wolf. Both actors are witty and engaging as they try to one-up each other to prove their case. Equally entertaining are Diana Coates and Allison Cain as court reporter Magill and Justice Prudence, respectively. My favorite actor (and my 8-year-old son agrees) is Marissa Lessman, whose experience as a sketch comedian at The Second City is evident as she deftly portrays four different characters with four amusing and distinct personalities.
Justice is served in the end (or is it?), but the outcome is the same — “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!” is a must-see for families.
From Chicago Now
The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs a fun family show
February 3, 2014
By Shari Schmidt
We were invited to see The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! at the Lifeline Theatre and I hesitated for a minute. Our daughters are ten now, so they are starting to outgrow our favorite fairy tales. The great thing about The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! is that it’s based on a book elementary schools read in class. This is a fun show for kids of all ages. There were preschoolers and Jr. High School students at our show. They all laughed.
Lifeline Theatre is in Rogers Park, which is a great Chicago neighborhood. We arrived about ½ hour early so we walked around a little before going to The Common Cup for hot chocolate and bakery treats. Our girls really liked sitting in the coffee shop watching people come in and out. They sat at the table chatting like they spent a lot of time in coffee shops.
Lifeline has a fun little park next to it. I had a hard time getting our girls into the theater. They wanted to stand outside talking about the artwork. They spotted the street library, which I explained was a way for people to share books. In this library they had magazines. Our girls were anxious to take a magazine, but I told them they were a bit young to read Architectural Digest or Wine and Food.
The show was wonderful. What I really admire about theater companies dedicated to children’s theater is how they work the audience of children into the production. In The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! the audience served as the jury. Throughout the show the actors talked to the audience as if the audience was another actor.
The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! is a family musical based on the popular children’s book by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. The concept is that there are two sides to every story and the long-suppressed account of the Big, Bad Wolf is finally brought to light in Piggsylvania’s Trial of the Century. Can a lone wolf get a fair trial in a corrupt piggy court? And will anyone believe that all the “huffing and puffing” nonsense was just a cover-up for a simple story about a sneeze and a cup of sugar? This production is recommended for children ages five and up (children under two not permitted), and runs one hour with no intermission.
I won’t say how our jury voted, but let’s just say it was a unanimous decision. After the show the actors signed autographs in the lobby. Each actor charmed the children by talking to them about their experience. I asked the actors about the ending. They said that they did have an alternate ending from the one we saw. They perform the ending based upon the jury’s decision. At that moment I wanted to ask them what the alternate closing song was, but I resisted. It turns out that every show ended the same way we voted. You’ll have to see the show for yourself to find out how the jury voted.
From Faith, Family & Creativity
February 1, 2014
By Christine Trevino
We were invited to attend opening weekend of Lifeline Theatre’s adaptation of The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! back in January, but we were all sick — times two. After being extended a very gracious opportunity to reschedule, and a trip to the local library to check out the book the show is based on, we finally made it out to Rogers Park for an exciting family adventure day in the unbelievably crazy Chicago snow.
Based on the book by Jon Scieszka, with script and lyrics by Robert Kauzlaric, music by Paul Gilvary and William Rush, and directed by Amanda Link; Lifeline’s musical twist on the tale of the Big Bad Wolf was both humorous and fun. Alexander T. Wolf shares his side of the story under the scrutiny of a piggy court and jury — who just happens to be the audience (AND who has the pleasure of determining his fate!).
What I loved about the show:
- I’m an absolute sucker for musical theater — the dancing, the singing, the witty nuances — it gets me every time. In no other circumstance are you allowed to break into song in the middle of regular conversation, except the theater. God bless the theater.
- The actor and actresses simply put were phenomenal performers. They were spot on for the entire show and they brought a humor to the presentation beyond the scripted lines.
- Which brings me to the script itself. Superbly written. I would guess MAYBE 10-15 minutes of the entire presentation was word for word out of Scieszka’s book. The additional story Robert Kauzlaric wrote for this adaptation was original and incredible.
- At the end of the show the audience actually determines the fate of Alexander T. Wolf. I LOVE that they had two different closing numbers tailored to each audience response.
- Following the show the actor and actresses were available in the lobby to take pictures and sign autographs. That was a big deal to my boys who both wanted their picture taken with Big Bad (who coincidentally was the only male in the show).
What I loved about the theater:
- All of Lifeline’s shows are original adaptations of written works. I loved that this was not only an hour event for our family. Being able to read the book before and after the show was a really exciting piece for the boys. Even their main stage presentations are all based on books/novels that can be read prior to attending.
- The theater was easily accessible — even in the snow — and extremely well kept. It had a great lobby to performance area ratio and great restroom facilities (which totally makes a difference for the momma’s who have recently potty-trained little ones).
From the Little Style File
February 5, 2014
By Keely Flynn
Looking for a howling good time for the kiddos? Try Lifeline Theatre’s The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, adapted from those masters of hilariously reworked fables, Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. This new work (with script and lyrics by Robert Kauzlaric, music by Paul Gilvary and William Rush, and direction by Amanda Link), focuses on the “other” side to the well-known piggy and wolf tale. As in- what if he didn’t do it?
The audience gets to be part of the action in this zippy production, acting as jurors in Piggsylvania, and deciding if a misunderstood wolf can get a fair trial in this hog-happy town. This show has it all: fun dialogue, upbeat musical numbers, and a cast that must sleep for days after performances (the quick character changes on the part of Marissa Lessman in particular left me impressed and sympathetically exhausted.) The utterly likeable “big and bad” Wolf (the charming David Sajewich) was a fun twist on an infamous character, and the prosecutor and judge (Amanda Roeder and Allison Cain, respectively) brought slick humor in droves. Tying it all together is Diana Coates’ energetic Magill, an ace reporter getting to the bottom of the scandal- and acting as narrator for the jury box.
This terrific production is adorable, hilarious, and sharp enough to keep kiddos 5+ (and, ahem, a reviewer’s 2 and 4 year olds) engaged for a full hour. Parents and other grownups will dig it, too. (See how many Beatles references you can catch!)
Looking for even more reasons to love this show (and theatre)? Every Saturday and Sunday (at noon during the run of the production) is a series called Stories Come Alive where, for five bucks per kiddo, your child can participate in interactive storytelling and theatre games.
And good news, folks: this family-friendly romp has been extended by two weeks. Which gives you plenty of time to get your huff n’ puff on with the baddest of them.