Saturday, January 22, 2011

Don't Let the Pigeon Steal the Show

We're big Mo Willems fans here at the House of Klein. It's pretty much assured that an Elephant and Piggie, PigeonKnuffle Bunny or one of the Brooklyn-based author's other marvelously zany children's books makes it into our weekly library checkout pile. In fact, you may recall seeing this video of Z reading There is a Bird on Your Head at age 4.

So how does a 4 minute read like Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus become a one-hour musical at the Emerald City Theatre? For starters, the show is actually a retelling of four of the Pigeon books: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, The Pigeon Wants a Puppy, Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late and The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog. Just as in the books, Pigeon plays the part of the wheedling child, but instead of putting the reader in the position of limit-setter, this time it's the children in the audience who get to deny Pigeon his greatest wishes.

Seeing the books performed one after the other crystallized for me the similarities between the stories and their overall benefit as parental reinforcement for limit-setting and rule-following. But the show isn't the least bit preachy. It's a high-energy romp complete with song and dance numbers, audience participation and plenty of physical comedy. (And in a nod to the "hidden pigeon" in all of Mo Willems' other books, you'll catch a few glimpses of Knuffle Bunny on the Emerald City Theatre stage.)

And for what it's worth, all four of us are still singing the catchy "I wanna puppy" song a full week later.

Disclosure: We received media passes to Don't Let the Pigeon Steal the Show. Tickets are typically $16 adult, $13 child.