Fort Worth — What could be better for Easter than a little ham? Well ... a lot of ham in this case. Casa Mañana's Children's Theatre is serving it up in a shiny new hip-hoppy version of The Three Little Pigs that's fat with piggy puns, written by the same team who wrote Honk! and Mary Poppins, George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.
These three little pigs are swine with swagger. We first meet them as they enter the forest on a red carpet in a burst of concert lighting and crowd noise for their opening number. But soon, the party's over when Mother Pig arrives on the scene to put her hoof down about the three piglets moving out on their own. She's been left to cope with them all by herself after their father was eaten by the Big Bad Wolf a year ago, and the place has become a pig sty. Mother sends them off with "hogs and kisses," and the trio set out on their own with dreams of the houses they plan to build after turning up their snouts at the idea of living together.
The siblings all have distinct personalities, and Noah Putterman's direction brings them all out to play. Clinton Greenspan is the family jock, Cha, who's a little slow on the uptake and oafishly clumsy. Brandon Wilhelm brings a shy, boyish quality to Bao, the bookish brain of the bunch. Their sister, Siu, is played with girly enthusiasm and plenty of eye rolling by Stefanie Tovar. All three of them are cute as can be right down to their curly tails.
The pigs build their abodes, and sure enough, enter the Big Bad Wolf, who was rumored to be road kill, but is back on the prowl. As he explains it, he's not big or bad, just a bit misunderstood. He's also hilarious, played by Christopher Deaton in a mile-high top hat and full-length fur coat, in a role that shows off his vocal range as well as his comedy chops. His banter with the pint-sized audience—he repeatedly refers to them as "chicky nuggets" opens Act II and includes a couple of "toot" jokes. He has awesome "disco ball" moments during his "I'll Huff and I'll Puff" number that doesn't go well for two-thirds of the pig trio and their houses.
All of the pigs have got cool moves, even Mother Pig, thanks to the young hip-hop choreography by Jeremy Dumont. There are even a few nods to Beyoncé.
Tammy Spencer's costume design is adorable with bouncy round bodies for the pigs and clothes that fit their personalities. The specially designed gloves that are transformed into front hooves and the black-toed pink high tops that serve as back hooves are clever and ingenious.
Katie Dill transforms the Casa Mañana stage into a lush green forest with help from lots of leafy green textures from Samuel Rushen's lighting design. Under the music direction of Sally Gardner, the upbeat score is fun and catchy with not a ballad in the bunch to slow things down.
This lively version of The Three Little Pigs made its debut in Singapore (in English) in 2012 before coming to the states in 2013, where it was chosen for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's Festival of New Musicals, the first children's musical to make the cut.
Stiles' and Drewe's Three Little Pigs is a fresh, fun look at a classic story that's as much fun for adults as it is for kids. In fact, it's a little slice of hog heaven.