Jonathan Rockefeller’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar show is a magical, visual feast with 75 puppets that parade and pop out and up on a colourful and imaginative stage. This show is as entrancing and colourful as the books on which it is based.

Children’s author Eric Carle has sold millions of books and is known for his iconic colourful hand-painted tissue paper collage illustrations and distinctively simple stories. These stories entertain and educate.

Jonathan Rockefeller has brought these characters to life on the stage in a way that engages one of the toughest of theatre audiences – children!

The usual hum of respectful theatre-going adults is replaced with the excited chatter and shrieks, and gasps of the children as Eric Carle’s stories unfold with exquisite and often larger-than-life puppets.

First off the rank is “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you See?” Brown Bear, operated by two puppeteers, sets the scene for a magical show. This lifelike puppet, created by Rockefeller Productions, delights children and adult alike. Written and illustrated by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle, the book is designed to help toddlers associate colours and meanings to objects. Brown Bear sees different coloured animals who seem to jump from the pages of the books and inspire the imagination. “Brown Bear” was first published in 1967 and has sold millions of copies, with translations into many languages.

“Ten Little Rubber Ducks” is the next story to emerge from the pages of Carle’s books onto the Atheneum stage creating a sea world that shimmers, as it informs. The story is about ten little rubber ducks who fall off a cargo ship. They get swept away on a high-seas voyage of discovery as they float to every part of the world. Inspired by a true story, Carle’s book was warmly received. Rockefeller’s show aptly captures the wonder of the ocean life. The whale singing, the dolphin jumping and the pelican chattering are charming.

It is followed by “The Very Busy Spider”, which perhaps is a little slow for the younger children. This busy spider very slowly builds his web avoiding distractions from other animals.

And the finale is the eponymous “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and what a finale it is. The cute and appealing caterpillar is a real treat for those adults and children who know the story (and it has been around since 1994 so that is many).

For those who don’t know the story the very hungry caterpillar devours one apple, two pears, three plums and so on. As the dexterous puppeteers bring the caterpillar to life on stage and create the suspense, the children are soon taking part in the counting. 

The puppeteers do a wonderful job of bringing these characters to life. The sound, lighting and music add to the magic formula of this show.  Nate Edmondson’s music hits just the right notes for such a imaginative show. And David Goldstein’s scenic design brings the pages of the books to life, and some.

The stories are magical on the page, and Jonathan Rockefeller has succeeded where many others haven’t in capturing the attention of little people who are known for their short attention span.

Event details

CDP Kids presents
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show
created by Jonathan Rockefeller | based on the books by Eric Carle

Cast (Melbourne): Teale Howie, Eleanor Stankiewicz and Jade Fuda

Venue: Athenaeum Theatre | 188 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC
Dates: 2 – 5 July 2022
Tickets: $45 – $34
Bookings: Ticketek 13 28 49 | 03 9650 1500

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