Presbyterian College students bring children’s book to the stage

Children’s book author Mo Willems’ “Elephant & Piggie’s We are in a play.” is the story of an unlikely friendship between an elephant named Gerald and a pig named Piggie. The five-member cast is rounded out by three additional animal characters, in this case, squirrels, called Squirrelles.

Students in Presbyterian College’s Musical Theater program will bring the story to the stage in three public performances February 1 to February 3. Two evening performances will take place this Friday, February 1 and Saturday, February 2 at 7:30 pm One afternoon performance will take place on Sunday, February 3 at 3 pm.

All performances will take place in Edmunds Hall. General admission is $5.

“It’s about friendship,” said Dr. Christian Elser, associate professor of music and director of the PC Musical Theatre & Opera program. “Friendship doesn’t mean you have to look the same or like all of the same things. It’s about caring and respect for the differences that make us all unique.”

The one-act production follows best friends Elephant and Piggie during one day. There is a brief conflict and resolution before the characters realize they are in a play. The music is fun and accessible with styles ranging from swing to traditional rock ‘n’ roll.

“There’s some audience participation, and it’s a lot of fun,” Elser said.

Elephant & Piggie is expected to be a treat for hundreds of local students who will see the show during two special matinee performances at 10 am February 1 and February 5.

The cast will perform for more than 600 kindergartens through 2nd graders from Laurens County District 56. For many of the children, this performance will likely be their first exposure to live theater, according to the music professor.

“I remember as a kid how amazing that was: to see live theater,” Elser said. “This is the stump speech I give to so many people in this day and age: I say, ‘Just go. Straight play, musical theater, whatever.’

“There is something so transformative about just being part of a living, breathing production that film doesn’t give you, that television doesn’t give you — because those are passive forms. With theater, you are active, sitting up in your seat, engaging in real people doing something real. And I almost can’t explain it: You have to go.”

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