Peppered with adult-friendly jokes, captivating songs, and fresh takes on familiar fairy tales, the Puppet Co.’s Little Red Riding Hood and the 3 Little Pigs offers invaluable life lessons in a family-friendly way to create a memorable and enjoyable experience.
In an unusually erudite fashion, audience members hear what really transpired in those tales — straight from the not-so-big, not-so-bad wolf’s mouth.
The play begins with a fresh rap from the wolf himself, setting the stage for his imminent exoneration. The funky bass in tandem with the brilliant rhyme scheme hooks viewers of all ages from the very beginning.
When the wolf is done, viewers are introduced to the three little pigs who, against the backdrop of an extended commentary on the ills and pressures of capitalism, begin trashing the wolf’s beloved forest so they can build grandiose houses and amass large personal fortunes. Only the youngest pig — kind, naive pacifist Gregory — leaves the forest and actually ends up befriending the wolf he is supposed to fear.
Upon learning the wolf is upset with the destruction of his home, Gregory shares that his brothers are at fault, which prompts the wolf to confront middle brother Michael.
A poorly timed gust of wind and Michael’s own preconceived notions about predatory wolves combine to lead him on a campaign against the wolf, fueled by misinformation, that eventually taints Gregory’s perception of his new friend.
The first half of the show offers poignant life lessons, teaching children and reminding adults not to play into stereotypes and instead make their own judgments about individuals based on their actions. It cautions viewers to be good stewards of the environment, and it even calls to mind the current political environment with a depiction of characters attempting to profit off false narratives.
Importantly, the language and content are such that these salient morals should not go right over young ones’ heads.
There is also wonderful character development in the first portion of the show, and adult-friendly content, too. (One clever joke played on the characters being pigs when discussing chauvinism.) The eldest brother is also a typical older sibling: neurotic and bossy, yet practical and sensible. These are things that will keep parents engaged even while kids might not pick up on them.
The Puppet Co. could have easily fallen into the trap of putting into play form Jon Scieszka’s The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! but their take on it was amazingly unique.
The second half of the show is where things slow down a bit. In contrast to the wolf’s groovy rap, Little Red Riding Hood regales audience members with a nice, lilting tune. The (unnamed) puppeteer behind Little Red Riding Hood had incredible vocals.
There were also adult-friendly jokes in this segment (one springs to mind about teachers being rich), but there was only one true moral in this half of the show and it was beaten into viewers’ minds to the point of redundancy.
Little Red Riding Hood is trying to raise money for red riding boots to match her red riding hood by selling cookies her granny baked Girl Scout-style. Her parents and her granny caution her to avoid wild animals and sell cookies only to people she knows, but she disobeys them and gives a cookie to the wolf.
This gives the wolf a hankering for cookies that just won’t quit, and later places the wolf in Granny’s house, intimidating Little Red Riding Hood for a second time. Mercifully, this version of the tale doesn’t see Granny consumed.
The clear lesson here is undoubtedly a valuable one for kiddos about respecting adults, but there was little character development here and the end of this part of the show was rather predictable.
This second part of the play extended the runtime to 52 minutes, which might be too much for small kids. Honestly, the Puppet Co. could have stuck with just the first part of the play and had a wildly enjoyable show.
Overall, it was quite impressive how the Puppet Co. was able to weave so many valuable life lessons into the fabric of this innovative and kid-friendly show. The Puppet Co. continues to be masters of the new while delivering content in a format harkening back to the old.
Run Time: Approximately 50 minutes with no intermission.
Recommended for ages 4+.
Little Red Riding Hood and the 3 Little Pigs plays through July 3, 2022 — Thursdays and Fridays at 10:30 am, Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30 am and 1 pm — at the Puppet Co. Playhouse, Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Boulevard, Glen Echo, MD. An ASL interpretation of the show is available June 26 at 11:30 am. June 25 at 11:30 am will be extra socially distanced. Tickets ($15) are available online. (No ticket required for under age 2, but call the Box Office to reserve a free ticket.) For information call 301-634-5380 or email Box.Office@thepuppetco.org.
COVID Safety: At this time, the Puppet Co. is reevaluating COVID safety policies monthly. All those over the age of 2 are required to mask inside at all times. Until June 15, all patrons over the age of 5 need to show proof of vaccination for admission. For more information, see FAQs here.
Little Red Riding Hood and the 3 Little Pigs
Co-Direction: Elizabeth Dapo and Danny Pushkin
Updated Lyrics: Kirk Bixby
Original Script / Lyrics / Music: Christopher Piper, Mayfield Piper, Allan Stevens
Puppet Design: Christopher Piper and Allan Stevens
Costume Build: Mayfield Piper
Bridgid Wallace as The Wolf, Little Red, and as David the Pig
Mollie Greenberg as Gregory and Michael the Pigs, and as Granny
Understudy: Danny Pushkin
Executive Director: Toni Goldberg
Artistic Director: Elizabeth Dapo