In the live show, a new and welcome addition to the world of ‘Peppa Pig’ is human friend, Anna, played by local actress Ashleigh Butcher. Pictures: Supplied

Cartoon pig and her family are making little ones squeal, writes Marchelle Abrahams.

The stage goes dark and silence envelopes the auditorium. Seconds later, the star makes her big entrance, and the crowd goes wild.
Screaming and screeches from all corners of the room are deafening, so much so that my 3-year-old covers her ears and shouts: “It’s too loud!” I can barely hear her above the noise.

I’ve just realised that I’ve borne witness to a phenomenon that’s hard to explain. In the history of humanity, we’ve managed to send a man to the moon, discovered penicillin and solved the theory of relativity. But we’ve never cracked the code on the sensation that has become Peppa Pig. It is a global franchise worth $1 billion a year, showing in 180 countries with 218 episodes aired in five seasons.

She’s taken over my TV, my home and my life. I’m not exaggerating. Every parent with a toddler under the age of 5 knows exactly what I’m talking about.

So when I heard Peppa Pig Live was coming to SA, I made it my parenting duty to get my daughter to the Cape Town leg of the theatre show, no matter what. Tickets started going on sale months before with special VIP meet-and-greet packages priced at R799. Who in their right mind would pay that much for just one ticket? Lots of parents!

Watching the reaction to a made-up cartoon character appear on stage is beyond belief. Imagine Michael Jackson being reincarnated and doing a live concert for one night only. That’s what she was to every child sitting in that audience.

The show itself centres around Peppa, her family, a few friends, and takes on the same format as the TV show. A new and welcome addition was human friend, Anna, played by local actress Ashleigh Butcher. The premise for the show hinges on the family going on an adventure while searching for Polly Parrot, who has escaped his cage, along with George’s beloved Mr Dinosaur.

READ: Peppa Pig Live in South Africa

Children have short attention spans and are easily bored, but show producers did their research and knew exactly how much kids can take on board before sensory overload becomes a danger. There was a scene change every 10 minutes, a break in between, lots of song and dance - a winning formula to keep them enthralled for the duration of the show.

They also delivered when it came to the TV show’s well-loved characters: George Pig, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig were a hit with the little ones. Peppa’s friends like Susie Sheep and Pedro Pony also make appearances.

To gauge the success of the show, I asked one of its biggest fans - my 3-year-old.

Me: “So, did you enjoy Peppa Pig?”

Her: “Yes”

Me: “What did you think about it?”

Her: “Is it over now?”

Me: “Yes”

Her: “Okay. I think I must like it.”

Me: “What was your favourite part?”

Her: “The Ping Pong song.”

Me: “Was that all?”

Her: “I think I must like all of it. Are you sure it’s finished now?”

Me: “Yes”

Her: “Okay, can we go home so that I can watch it on YouTube? I like it better on YouTube.”

Next stop for Peppa Pig Live is The Playhouse Company (Durban) from April 20- 22, followed by the second leg of the tour including two performances at the South African State Theatre (June 16, 17) and a stopover in Port Elizabeth at the Opera House from June 23-24.