Pig tales

Someone forgot to tell Fatilda to wear her birthday party attire

This little piggy was born on Sept. 21, so it’ll be a while before she enjoys a birthday party of her own. But she made an appearance — along with two older, plumper friends — between two performances of “If You Give a Pig a Party” in Scottsdale today.

These sisters, who attended the show with their grandmother, were patient and persistent as they worked to throw hula hoops over a mop and broom

“If You Give a Pig a Party,” based on a series of books written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond, is being performed by Phoenix Theatre’s Cookie Company through Nov. 27 at Greasepaint Youtheatre.

Lots of parents and children, including the mother and son pictured here, enjoyed taking photos with this pig cut-out and several wooden crates covered in hay

I started enjoying Cookie Company performances with my children when they were very young, and one of their favorite traditions still stands. After every Cookie Company performance, guests enjoy a chocolate chip cookie and a small carton of milk — and cast members come out in costume to meet and greet young fans.

A pair of sisters attended the show with their very own dressed-up pig

Often the fun actually begins before the performance, with pre-show activities. Today Phoenix Theatre presented several child-size carnival style games, set up a piggy photo-opp area and provided art supplies for those eager to pen a piggy picture or poem. A lively storyteller read to kids in the audience before the show, which runs just 45 minutes or so, got underway.

Lots of children enjoyed playing this carnival-style word game

“If You Give a Pig a Party” was adapted for the stage by Nancy Schaeffer. It features music and lyrics by B. Wolf, and was originally commissioned by Dallas Children’s Theatre. The Cookie Company production is directed by Robert Kolby Harper and recommended for grades K-3.

A mother and daughter enjoying some time with baby Fatilda and cast member Kate Haas

It’s a colorful, fast-paced musical with a charming theme — the best part of a birthday party is friends. The cast includes Rebecca Duckworth (Girl), Kate Haas (Pig), Krystal Pope (Moose), Isaac Wesley Wilson (Dog), Kate Kugler (Cat) and Devon Nickel (Mouse).

These girls enjoyed lobby activities like drawing and word games before the show

I love the set design by Robert Andrew Kovach, which features a center screen that’s often used for shadow work and two large side pieces with panels that flip like the pages of a book. They make transitions through various settings — an amusement park, an outdoor play area and various rooms inside a home — seamless.

Several children enjoyed easel time before taking their seats in the theater

For kids old enough to notice such things, it would be a fun technique to replicate at home on a smaller scale. A slumber party scene featuring tents made of blankets and one giant, colorful quilt should inspire plenty of homemade forts built with sheets thrown over dining room tables. 

Kate Kugler (Cat) enjoys baby Fatilda with two young fans after the show

The best children’s theater inspires imagination while reinforcing those things we all value for our children — manners, safety, cooperation and sharing. “If You Give a Pig a Party” does just that. When regular bike helmets don’t fit Moose and Snake, Girl makes sure no one rides until they get just what they need. Chores are done cheerfully. Words like “please” and “thank you” are plentiful.

A girl pig named Charlie meets one of her young fans after the show

I enjoyed the costume design by Carl S. Smith. Pig opens the show in a fabulously full tutu with fuzzy textured leg warmers. Come pajama time, Moose dons a funky pair of moose slippers.

One of many families who attended the show together

Properties designer Katie McNamara rocked the giant pancakes, cookie, muffin and more — even giving me a heads up on ideas for next Halloween. Who knew pink sprinkle donuts made such fetching headgear?

– Lynn

Note: A limited number of discount tickets for the Nov. 13 performances of “If You Give a Pig a Party” may still be available through showup.com. The three little piggies won’t be there, but you can still enjoy all the pre-show activities and time after the show with cast members rocking their “Party” clothes.

Coming up: Movie reviews — “Stage Mom” style

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