The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show | CDP Theatre Producers | Adelaide Festival Centre | Review

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show Review

By Jo Parkinson

‘In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf.’

This would have to be one of the most recognised first lines of a children’s book in the world. Published in 1969 and selling nearly 50 million copies, ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ by Eric Carle has been a part of childhood for generations.

Now, Adelaide is lucky enough to host the live show. Presented by CDP Kids, it is being performed at the Dunstan Playhouse in the Festival Centre from 20 to 23 April. With the average age of children in the audience being five and under, this highly engaging show is a perfect introduction to live theatre for our little people.

The set is simple. Large white textured screens take up most of the space, lit up with the familiar-coloured dots we recognise from the book. Three other books by Eric Carle have been placed in the centre of the stage. Soft but upbeat music plays in the background as everyone takes their seats.

After the lights dim, the coloured dot lighting disappears, leaving the white screens. It is soon clear we will be told three other Eric Carle stories, along with The Very Hungry Caterpillar which is a nice surprise. The show begins with the popular ‘Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?’ story. A large, moving puppet of Brown Bear makes its way onto the stage, much to the delight of the audience members. We are then introduced to the other animals in the story, each coming out one by one and representing a different colour. The characters are voiced expressively by the puppeteers. This story captures the children’s attention and at the end when each puppet is brought back out, children start to interact and call out the names of the animals they remember.

The next story is ‘10 Little Rubber Ducks’. This one is about ten rubber ducks that are manufactured and put into boxes, then loaded onto a cargo ship. One box of ducks falls off the ship into the sea, and the ducks float off in their separate ways. We count the ducks from one to ten as they drift apart in different directions in the ocean, each duck encountering different marine animals. The change of set is a simple but effective piece of blue fabric representing the water. There is a resounding ‘wow’ from the audience as each new puppet is brought out, everyone surprised by the colour and movement of each.

We then move on to ‘The Very Busy Spider’. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t like spiders, this one is decorated with red and blue glitter and is not in the least bit scary! We see more animals appear, trying to get the spider’s attention, but she is too busy spinning her web. Some of the animal puppets are ones we have seen in the other stories, bringing a sense of familiarity.

Finally, it’s what we have all been waiting for. The anticipation has built up and there is a cheer from the audience when the light of the moon appears, along with a leaf and an egg.  The story is told beautifully, with the movement of the caterpillar exaggerated in a slinky-like manner as it looks for each piece of food to eat. The pictures of food are brought out by the puppeteers and presented exactly like the book, down to the holes in each one. There are plenty of laughs as the caterpillar makes its way through each piece, looking very cute and funny! The audience joins in with the well-known line “But he was still hungry!’. Music plays the whole time with the caterpillar and food dancing along in time to the beat. More laughs are heard as the ‘big’ caterpillar arrives, as the movement changes from slinky to clunky! 

The attention to detail used in the 75 puppets is amazing. Each represents the original illustrations from the books accurately and it’s amazing to see them being brought to life. They are large enough to be seen easily and the white background of the set makes each puppet’s colour stand out. The puppeteers are so clever in their handling of each character, the movements are realistic, and the voices used are animated well. Children are engaged with each story, incorporating the learning of colours, numbers, repetition, and rhyme.

CDP Kids should be commended in the way the show is presented, as it held the audience’s attention the whole time. Not an easy feat when you are trying to entertain pre-schoolers in a theatre for close to an hour! The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a magical show worth seeing and will be remembered for many years after.

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For more information and all enquiries please visit the Adelaide Festival Centre.

What The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show – Live on Stage

When:    Wednesday 20 – Saturday 23 April 2022

Where:  Dunstan Playhouse | Adelaide Festival Centre, King Willian Road, Adelaide

Who  18+ months

At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.

Image Source: supplied

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