Heartwarming family fun with Elephant & Piggie this spring

Beloved characters from the Mo Willems hit children’s book series bring their lovable antics, life lessons in friendship and cooperation to Centrepointe Theatres.

Gather the family and get ready for some extreme laughter and fun as Mo Willems’ beloved characters Elephant & Piggie take to the Centrepointe Theatres stage this March.

American author Willems wrote the script and the lyrics for the production, incorporating six stories from his Elephant & Piggie book series for early readers, which debuted in 2007 in comic book style and focuses on the adventures of two friends, an elephant, Gerald, and a pig, Piggie.

Actor Joe Mallon plays Elephant in this hugely successful production that originated at The Kennedy Centre in Washington.

“When I was asked to audition for the part I didn’t realize that it was a children’s show,” says Mallon. “But once I got the script and then read Mo Willems’ books, I just fell in love with it.”

Mallon says he and the other performers thrive on the instant feedback from the children at the show. “They aren’t afraid to let you know whether they like something,” Mallon laughs. “I think that’s great.”

He adds that for many children, this will be their first time attending live theatre. “It’s a really good opportunity to expose children to live theatre. And knowing that keeps us on our toes and giving the best energetic performance we can.”

Mallon got to meet Willems in person in 2015, as the original production was being staged. “It was helpful meeting him,” says Mallon. “He explained how he’d drawn the characters and had good advice for the production.”

Mallon says his reading of the books helped as well. “I had to get an idea of what children were expecting and for Gerald, it’s a series of extremes. Even during my audition, I gave it 100-per-cent extreme,” laughs Mallon.

The production is an hour long and sure to keep youngsters engaged as Elephant and Piggie explore life lessons of friendship, generosity, forgiveness, and cooperation.

“The take-away for children is tremendous,” says Mallon. “And all the performers get an enormous amount of satisfaction that these children leave feeling good about live theatre.”

And parents enjoy the production just as much as their children do, he adds.  An interesting note for parents and grandparents is that Elephant Gerald is Willems’ nod to one of his favourite performers, Ella Fitzgerald.

What: Elephant & Piggie’s “We Are in a Play”

When: Saturday, March 25, 1 p.m.

Where: Centrepointe Theatres, 101 Centrepointe Dr.

Tickets: www.centrepointetheatre.com