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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: UWGB offers ‘Three Little Pigs’ for children

The opera/musical production features music by Mozart.

PHOTO: “The Three Little Pigs” has been adapted in numerous ways over the centuries. Knowledge Works Company photo

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Did you know that Mozart wrote “The Three Little Pigs”? Well, he didn’t and he did. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed music, and two centuries later somebody else came along and adapted his music to the classic tale of three pigs and a big, bad wolf. That’s a little back story to performances coming up by University of Wisconsin-Green Bay opera and musical theater students that are designed for youngsters.

The program will perform the 35-miniute adapted opera/musical April 22, 23 and 25 on campus and at Green Bay’s Wequiock Elementary School.

According to university publicity, the performances mark the first time in several years that UWGB has presented children’s theater.

Music Professor Sarah Meredith Livingston, who teaches the course, says the experience will be an enjoyable one for youngsters – the performance is aimed at children in grades kindergarten through three – as well as the UWGB students who make up the cast.

Meredith Livingston said, “It’s a different kind of theater, and as actors you have to be able to become a child again, in a sense. This is a terrific way to interest kids in theater and the power of live performance.”

The first performance of “The Three Little Pigs” will take place at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 22 in the Jean Weidner Theatre of the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts at UWGB, 2420 Nicolet Drive. The performance is free and open to the public, but seating will be limited due to a large group from the local Boys & Girls Club that plans to attend. A second free, public performance will be held at 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 25, also in the Jean Weidner Theatre. The other performance, at Wequiock Elementary School, is not open to the public.

Cast members for “The Three Little Pigs” are UWGB students Kate Akerboom, Hannah Blecha, Leah LaMalfa, Victoria Schwenn, Cody Galligan and Evan Roberts Ash. Production personnel are Sarah Meredith Livingston, stage and music director; Emily Sculliuffo, accompanist; and Bill Florescu of Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera, consultant.

The music is from scenes of operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, including “Cosi Fan Tutte” and “Don Giovanni.” The words and story adaptation are by John Davies.

“The Three Little Pigs” is one of a series of children’s stories/musicals offered by a venture called Opera Tales.

The setup (from Opera Tales): “While brother pigs Don Giovanni and Cherubino set off to make homes of sticks and straw, their sister, Despina, goes to the library to read up on ‘huff-proof, puff-proof’ home construction. After Wolfgang Bigbad blows down the boys’ flimsy homes, they run to their sister’s sturdy new brick house quite ready to admit that going to the library and reading books is a pretty smart thing to do after all.”

John Davies created the piece in 1991 while working as director of education for Syracuse Opera. A parent teacher organization was looking for something operatic that would celebrate books and reading, and idea and “The Three Little Pigs” lasted.

In Opera Tales notes, John Davies says, “It gives me real satisfaction to think that many excellent American singers having wonderful operatic careers today used to be big bad wolves and little piglets.”

You may email me at warren.gerds@wearegreenbay.com. Watch for my on-air features on WFRV between 6 and 8 a.m. Sundays.

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