PROVO — As I walked into the Margetts Theatre at BYU, I was instantly surrounded by children all “a-chatter” with anticipation for Babe, the Sheep Pig directed by Teresa Dayley Love. BYU’s venture into the world of theatre for young audiences was an overall success. By the end of the evening, I saw countless children leave the theatre imitating the various farm animals they had just fallen in love with, and that is something extraordinary. This production should take pride in the fact that these children will remember this show and how much fun they had forever.
Babe, the Sheep Pig is the story of a young pig that is won at an auction by Farmer Hogget. The pig, later named Babe, is brought back to the farm and ultimately adopted by Fly (the sheep dog.) Babe learns through the other animals in the farm how to herd and is taken to the sheep dog competition by Farmer Hogget, and triumphantly wins.
I felt the show settled for just entertaining the children. I am sure that those audience members with progeny enjoyed seeing them participate in the show, but for those of us that just wanted to see a classic tale were left out of the experience. Almost as if they were saying, “stand aside adults this is just for the children.” Which is okay if it is what they’re going for, but why leave out the paying part of your audience? In my opinion, the most successful children’s movies appeal to all ages. So why wouldn’t that rule apply to theatre for young audiences? If you have children, take them to this show, if not I wouldn’t recommend you attend.
The actors worked well in a mostly ensemble show. Everyone was in character while interacting with the children, sometimes even including him or her as characters in the show. When this happened, an actor would have to tell the kids what to do—which took time—while the audience waited for the show to continue. Unfortunately, that is a natural problem with this concept: a lot of waiting. There were also a general amount of focus problems, I never knew where to look and when I did figure it out I was distracted by other actors on stage trying to tell the kids what they were supposed to do next. I found myself watching the mechanics of the show rather than just the show. When the actors had the focus and I was able to watch them I enjoyed the show more than when the stage was full of commotion.
I appreciated Katie Bowman as Fly and Andrew Joy as Babe, as they both fought to keep the audiences attention, which they needed to do. Bowman came off as maternal and very likable narrating us through the show while Joy was super endearing as Fly’s faithful follower. Amberly Plourde was entertaining to say the least, taking on the Turkey and Ma. All three actors deserve much praise. Accents in this show were good enough; I never worried too much about them. The animal noises made by the cast were okay, but I grew sick of them quickly and so did some of the children I met.
Make-up and costumes were hot and cold for me. The make-up was too heavy on Mr. and Mrs. Hogget (Played by Alexander Trop and Annalee Hickman) and looked very “cartoon-y” and not in a good way. The costumes had clever moments, using yellow feather boas to delineate ducks or wool sweaters to show the sheep.
The show succeed with the children, anyone could tell that by asking one of them after the show. As far as adults, don’t go unless you have children or like watching other people’s children in a theatre setting.