Leaping from the page to the stage

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Some of the puppets featuring in The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show and Other Timeless Stories. Photos: Supplied

THE pages of author Eric Carle’s beloved stories are jumping on to the stage in Invercargill next week.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show and Other Timeless Stories will be performed at the Civic Theatre on Friday, August 4.

The show premiered at the Sydney Festival in 2015 and this will be the first time it had toured to New Zealand, executive producer Michael Sieders said.

Created by Jonathan Rockefeller and directed by Naomi Edwards, the show features four of Carle’s stories, The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse, Mister Seahorse, The Very Lonely Firefly and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Sieders said The Artist was about imagination, creativity and thinking outside the box, while Mister Seahorsewas an underwater adventure which told the story of male fish who looked after their young until they hatch.

The Lonely Fireflywas about finding your tribe and finding friends, he said.

“It’s a really beautiful tale. And then it goes into the hero of the piece, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which everyone knows and loves.”

The stories are told using about 75 puppets, ranging from a 2m crocodile to a full-size cow and, of course, many caterpillars as they move through the stages of the story.

“We really give our audiences a visual feast with these amazing puppets.”

Seiders said they worked with New York-based puppet designers Puppet Kitchen to create the characters for the show.

“We worked really closely with them as well as the Eric Carle Studio to really get them looking as close as looking like the books as possible,” he said.

“Eric Carle’s artwork is so iconic in the way he creates his art. They obviously wanted it to be as if they literally jumped off the page.”

And the result was just what they were looking for.

“When we saw them for the first time it was it was like looking at the books, just in 3D form.”

While the books are aimed at pre-readers, Seiders said the show had something for many generations.

“We’ve had children as young as 6 months really just being fascinated by what we’re presenting on stage… right up to grandparents who have read these books to their children and are now taking their grandchildren along.”

He said there were four puppeteers on stage, along with a busy assistant stage manager behind the scenes. The show was also filled with music which had been composed for the production.

And for many young members of the audience, the show was their first time seeing a theatrical production, he said.

“It’s always lovely to hear that a lot of kids who do come to this show, it’s their first theatre experience and hopefully it makes them want to come back and see more theatre.”

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show, Civic Theatre, Invercargill. Friday, August 4, noon and 3pm.

Tickets from TicketDirect and the Invercargill City Council booking office.

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