Thursday, September 21, 2000

Familiar characters captivate children

By Janelle Gelfand
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The story of the caterpillar with the insatiable appetite is familiar to millions of children and adults who have been reading Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar since 1969. In the mid-1980s, Mr. Carle wrote The Very Quiet Cricket, a journey through the insect world as a little cricket searches for his own voice.

        The tales are interpreted by Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Aronoff Center.

        The Enquirer spoke with artistic director Jim Morrow, who adapted the stories with Sheri Eaton and composer Steven Naylor.

        Question: How do you tell the stories?

        Answer: In black light. Ultraviolet light shines on surfaces painted with fluorescent paint, making them appear to glow. Our puppeteers are dressed in black, and the set is a black box. The characters are puppet characters.

        Q: What are some things that the Very Hungry Caterpillar eats?

        A: He has a passion for fruit: apples, pears, oranges, strawberries and plums. Then he goes through a smorgasbord of all kinds of things. He gets a very big tummy ache and goes to bed. (He) weaves himself a cocoon. Out of the cocoon emerges a butterfly.)

        Q: What kind of reaction do you get from children?

        A: They scream. They get very excited when they see the caterpillar. For children ages 3, 4 and 5 years old, this is pandemonium. It's like seeing one of their heroes.

        Q: What is the funniest reaction you've ever had?

        A: One child asked, “How did they get the caterpillar out of the book?”

        Q: What were some of your biggest challenges?

A: How to maintain Eric Carle's beautiful sense of simplicity in a theater form. How does a caterpillar walk, a cricket jump? Normally our characters speak. We thought it was best to have the voice of a father telling the story to his children (on tape).

        Q: What insects does the Cricket meet?

        A: The first insect is an adult cricket, (who) rubs his wings together to show the little cricket how to say hello. The little cricket tries to rub his wings together, but nothing happened. Not a sound. Every time he meets a new insect, he rubs his wings together and nothing happened. Not a sound. At the end of the show, kids are whispering, “Nothing happened. Not a sound.

        He meets a locust, a praying mantis; a worm in an apple; a bee; a spittlebug; a cicada; a dragonfly; mosquitoes and a luna moth. Finally he meets a girl cricket.

        Q: What is your favorite puppet?

A: The dragonfly. It has a wingspan of 9 feet. It's slow-moving, colorful and it's a very captivating moment.
       If you go

        What: The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Very Quiet Cricket
        When: 3 p.m. Saturday Where: Aronoff Center
        Tickets: $8-$12, 241-7469


Drug test probe expands
Enquirer editorial
Bush lead over Gore narrows in Ohio
Few bid little for killer's letter
Man arrested in woman's death
PULFER: Be very afraid
Storm hits Xenia hard
UC students find campus altered
Start of classes at UC snarls interstates
Give help, not prison, group urges
Teens gather to affirm faith
Best sellers
A City in the Making
Court TV gives in to murder victims' families' plea
CSO to premiere 'Millennium Fantasy'
- Familiar characters captivate children
Nobel-winning Nigerian playwright likely to visit
Nobel Prize winner to ring Peace Bell
Phish jams to joyful crowd
The Early Word
These dads feel right at home
Frampton comes back
$2.1M for new radios pleases officials
3 stolen all-terrain vehicles found
50-plus indicted by Butler grand jury
Competing drug benefits draw skeptical responses
County ordered to cough up court cash
Don't build road, most at Taylor Mill meeting say
Fugitive caught in Kansas
In the schools
Killer of girl, 2, pleads for his life
Mother makes lesson of tragedies
Oxford pays tribute to 'McGuffey Reader' writer
Regents' OK expected on $6B budget
Remains those of waitress
Safety barrier going up between I-75 and St. Bernard
Senate OKs new teacher licensing
Senator's mailing brings complaint
Talawanda teachers make deal
Teachers critical of proficiency tests
Get to it
Kentucky News Briefs
Pig Parade: Erectheham on the Porkcropolis
Tristate A.M. Report