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Pigs, and their proximity to our state's national river, have been at the center of much controversy in Arkansas. A far more imaginative approach to the porcine population can be found with This Little Piggy Went to Market, onstage at Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre.

The musical, which opened Friday, concerns Little Piggy (Samantha Harrington), a bouncy creature who loves market day at Boudreaux's Bayou Market, run by the eponymous over-accented Cajun character (a cross between Ed Orgeron and Uncle Remus) played by Mark Hansen. That's where she's heading to follow the instructions of her mother (Georgeann Burbank) in purchasing two brown eggs (overpriced at 25 cents each) for use in baking a special treat.

As written by Children's Theatre's mad scientist Keith Smith, our lively heroine is admonished by her mother to be kind, polite and courteous, and to obey the rules. "Good little piggies never have no fun," laments Little Piggy. On the way to market, she encounters her best friends Skinny Piggy (Stephen Jones) and Curly Piggy (Anthony McBride). Goofing off commences. And although Little Piggy has the best intentions of obeying her mother, that's not what happens.

You might think that this is a simple framework for a story, seeing as it's built on the nursery rhyme from which the musical gets its name. You will be forgiven for thinking that, if you are unfamiliar with the work of Keith Smith, whose unpredictable, zany, and startling theatrical plots are consistent in only one respect: They leave predictability behind.

With that in mind, it's not surprising to find that other nursery rhymes poke through the fabric of the plot (straws, sticks and bricks from Three Little Pigs are an example). "The Battle of New Orleans," written by Jimmy Driftwood, empowers a stomping dance scene. There's a rap song and a marching song. And a mystical appearance by creepy bayou dweller Gator Wolf Man -- a demon and a half -- takes the tale into darker territory before blasting skyward into good cheer.

The littlest audience members probably won't make head nor tail of the wacky goings-on, but they'll enjoy the physicality of this clever adventure, which features some of Smith's best songs ever.

This Little Piggy Went to Market, with a running time of 60 minutes, continues through Feb. 17 at Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre, Ninth and Commerce streets, Little Rock. More information is at www.arkansasartscenter.org/childrenstheatre or by phone at (501) 372-4000.

Metro on 02/02/2019

Print Headline: This Little Piggy is a wee bit of fun

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