By Julie and Leo Stromberg
Explore the bright, colorful, and playful world of Eric Carle with The Very Hungry Caterpillar Holiday Show at the El Portal Theater. This family-friendly show ignites excitement from our youngest audience members to our more seasoned Carle fans.
There were many “Oohs” and “Aahs” from our young audience members as stunning puppets of Carle’s most celebrated creations graced the stage. The cast members did a fantastic job at interacting with the audience with their animated storytelling of Carle’s works. This performance was a testament to the power and exceptionalness of Eric Carle as all the audience members, even the barely 2-year-olds, knew the lines to his books.
The children reacted with pure excitement as they watched Carle’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? as puppet versions of each characters entered the stage. I couldn’t tell which character was the audience’s favorite as they all elicited so much joy from the children, although the green fog seemed to be very popular. Next, the audience was treated to a voyage at sea with 10 Little Rubber Ducks as they found their way home under Carle’s smiling moon. The barking seal was a huge hit with the audience, but the whale and the real mama duck with her ducklings followed closely behind.
In the spirt of the holidays, the audience was swept into a winter farm wonderland in Dream Snow. A lighted Christmas tree and a farmer dressed up as Santa delivering presents to his precious farms animals warmed your heart. This performance ignited the holiday spirit in all.
The production closed with a performance of Carle’s very popular The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Anxious children watched how a baby caterpillar emerges from an egg with a voracious appetite and turns into a butterfly. The latter performance was really la piece de resistance of the show and was very beautiful. The butterfly was particularly stunning and ended the show on a high note.
The show ended with huge applause from the audience, including babies and children clapping with joy. Audience members were treated to photographs of the cast and some of the show’s puppets as a treat for not using their phones during the show. Set in the beautiful, art deco El Portal Theater, the theater did a wonderful job creating a Carlesque ambiance to excite theatergoers with a holiday twist. While waiting for the show or after the show, children were welcome to color Carle characters, read his books, and play with toys of characters in the show. Overall, the show was very creative, original, entertaining, and the perfect length for young children (around 45 minutes). I was impressed at how well the cast engaged the audience, especially the youngest babies, who remained in their seat and attentive for the entire show. This show was especially a hit for children ages 4 and under, including babies, but a delight for all who attended. The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the El Portal Theater is definitely worth exploring this holiday season.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Holiday Show runs through January 21, 2024 at El Portal Theatre. Tickets range from $30-$45 for general seating, to $65 for VIP seating featuring premium seat location and a meet & greet photo op with The Very Hungry Caterpillar. They can be purchased here.
Leo Stromberg is a second-grade student at Pilgrim School. He and his mother Julie are a duo team who love to go to shows together. They reside in Brookside with Leo’s daddy, brother, sister, three dogs, and a bird. This is Leo’s second theater review.