GRUG: KIDS SHOW RECOMMENDATION by Amy Wall Lerman
My son has a very silly sense of humor and Saturday’s performance of “Grug” at the New Victory Theater on 42nd Street in Manhattan brought on his full-fledged, infectious belly-laughter. When he laughs that hard, it tends to draw a lot of attention as I think the other audience members, and possibly the performers, might agree.
Everyone knows that kids don’t need big fancy productions with sparkling lights and a full orchestra to enjoy the theater. All they need is to be transported to an engaging place where imagination comes to life and, of course, where they can unleash a few good belly laughs.
Grug is an ageless, little walking haystack, with a taste for cabbage and a love of the postal service. Grug enjoys receiving parcels in the mail and it takes very little to get imaginations soaring when one of the performers opens and displays several empty packages. Oh no! What should he put in the parcels that might please a hungry, sleepy little Grug? Each parcel contains a new surprise that has the children squealing and on their feet. There’s a moment to dance, to laugh, to rest, to play, and to celebrate a birthday – all in one short show.
The performance brings this mysterious little critter to life by fast-forwarding from his birth to his full-sized gruggishness. My son actually looked frightened when Grug began to grow and the music played somewhat eerily over the speakers – but I think his moment of fear began when another child started to cry in the theater (and probably had nothing to do with the show).
While descriptively, Grug has all the makings of a monster, he is anything but. With his haystack-shaped head, two plodding feet, big droopy nose and pair of googly-eyes, Grug is a sweet, gentle, peaceful creature who is content with a full-belly and a good nap. Grug’s kindness is demonstrated when he discovers a snail has been snacking on his cabbage – not just snacking – gobbling it up. Grug doesn’t get upset, he just grows more cabbage – that way there will be enough for both of them.
The show is based on a favorite Australian children’s book character created by Ted Prior. His story is magically, and simply, brought to life by 3 performers from Australia’s Windmill Theatre – the same group who brought us “Plop!” last year – a show that remains chiseled in my son’s memory. Grug’s stage is a long, sloping, grass-layered platform which also serves as a burrow, soccer field, and garden for little Grug and his friends – that sneaky snail, a soccer-playing snake, a very wiggly worm, and a surprisingly snappy crab.
Collectively, actors Matt Crook, Ellen Steele, and Hamish Fletcher, manipulate Grug and narrate the story so convincingly that you often forget Grug is a puppet – making it easy for even the most jaded New Yorker to re-join that forgotten world of childhood innocence and unflinching belief.
This show is recommended for ages 2-5 and, while my son is almost 5 1/2, as long as he is as silly as he is, I will continue to take him to any Windmill Theater production that comes my way. There is nothing more special than creating joyful memories for your kids – and The Windmill Theater has done it again with a wonderful show that is sure to be as memorable for my son as “Plop!” (which is hard to believe since he still says he wants to see that one again). Along with the professionalism of the New Victory staff and their welcoming environment, this bunch knows kids and knows how to create a perfect experience.
Thank you, Windmill and the New Victory Theater for bringing joy to a roomful of kids.
For those of you not in New York, don’t worry…this is a North American tour. For a list of performances (possibly near you) go to: www.windmill.org.au/show/grug.