If we all got a standardized Parent Starter Kit, it would no doubt include some Eric Carle books. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of the first books many of us read to our kids, and it has pride of place in a new live show of Eric Carle stories running through March 27 at the 47th Street Theater in NYC.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show mixes Carle’s stories with large, Lion King-style puppets and colorful projections that are simple enough for babies to enjoy and clever enough for kids up to about age 6. The hard-working and eager-to-please cast—Ariel Lauren, Kayla Prestel, Jake Bazel, Weston Long and Mindy Leanse—splits an hour’s running time into four sections of Carle’s work.
The first has an artist moving one color at a time through many of the animals found throughout Carle’s books—including a purple fox, an orange elephant and a black polar bear—with each one taking the stage as a dancing puppet. The section moves at an easy pace with gently pulsating music and gets kids into the groove of the show. The framework for each animal’s appearance is repeated, but every puppet brings a little jolt of surprise when it comes onstage.
From there the show tells more straightforward stories: Mister Seahorse, The Very Lonely Firefly and, of course, one about a certain caterpillar that eats his way through a ton of colorful food before turning into a butterfly. My kindergartner got excited about each new onstage transformation, and the younger kids around us all found plenty to enjoy. And by keeping the whole thing to an hour, no one in the audience lost interest or got overtired. (The adults seemed to be having a pretty good time, too!)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show runs most Saturdays (2pm) and Sundays (3pm) through the end of March, with extra performances on February 6 and 19, plus a Spanish-language version on Saturday, March 19, at 4:30pm. Tickets and more info about the show are available at hungrycaterpillarshow.com.