The reviews are in for “Babe”

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Dean Holt and Reed Sigmund star in “Babe, The Sheep Pig” at Children’s Theatre Company

“Babe,The Sheep Pig” – the play based on the award-winning movie about a talented young pig – runs through February 27 at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis. Based on these three reviews, it sounds like the show is a great bet for you and the kids in your life.

From Ed Huyck at City Pages:

Based on Dick King-Smith’s novel, the play offers delights for anyone who loved the book or the film. If you have young kids, it’s a great way to get out of the house in the deep winter for a fun afternoon or evening. But even if you don’t have kids, it’s still a great little escape. Much of that is due to the 10-actor company, led by the always-impressive Dean Holt in the title role.

An extremely gifted physical comic and performer, Holt puts his skills to great effect as Babe. Padded out and dressed in pink, he makes a great representation of a pig. It’s his actions that sell the character, from the stubby run he employs while herding the sheep to the way he gobbles food whenever it’s set in front of him. When agitated, Holt bounces (almost literally, he’s wearing a lot of padding to get the right shape) around the stage like, well, a greased pig.

The staging hints at the animals with costumes and makeup, but it is up to the actors to bring them to life. It’s not just Holt that makes the best of this opportunity. The entire company, be they dog, sheep (hmm, we seem to have the making of a Pink Floyd album here), cat, or rooster, all do a great job.

From Rohan Preston at Star Tribune:

…Dean Holt is delivering a performance at Minneapolis’ Children’s Theatre that should be noted.

Holt plays the title character in “Babe,” the show about the pig that wants to be a sheepdog. The virtuoso actor depicts the rotund porkie with some of the physical dexterity that he has become known for.

But what sets this turn apart is not his running, bouncing or even the geisha-pig movement vocabulary he creates for his character. Holt’s performance is one of simplicity and affecting honesty. He imbues the pig with a winning innocence, and we come to root for him not just in the comic moments, as when he falls off the stage and needs assistance getting back up, but also during the touching scene when he is mistaken for a sheep killer…

…This bright and bubbly production, by Peter Brosius, puts a premium on play. The sense of creativity and fun extends to Victor Zupanc’s comic music, which sets up expectations of pratfalls; Michael Matthew Ferrell’s Irish choreography, including Irish step-dance; and Sonya Berlovitz’s inventive and efficient costumes.

…When I go to shows with my second-grader, Adisa, we often disagree more than we agree about the merits of productions. But on this one, we are in accord. “Babe” is a hoofing hoot.

From Dominic P. Papatola at Pioneer Press:

Clad in a pink checked shirt with salmon-colored high-water pants held up by matching suspenders (and generous padding), Dean Holt can be described only as adorable as the eponymous porcine hero in the Children’s Theatre Company’s production of “Babe: The Sheep-Pig.”

Sporting a thin tuft of unruly pink hair on his bald pate and wearing a crooked, perpetual, please-love-me smile, Holt snuffles and oinks around the stage with a gait somewhere between a canter and a waddle. It’s an endearing and beautiful performance inside and out, delivering the childlike innocence of someone who hasn’t yet learned the meaning of the word “impossible.”

Holt’s winning performance drives director Peter Brosius’ cheery, effervescent staging of a script that leans more on Dick King Smith’s 1983 book than the better-known 1995 movie. Working under the premise that less is more (a philosophy not often seen on CTC’s main stage), Brosius and company offer a thoroughly charming tale loaded with fine performances…

…A tip of the hat, too, goes to the hard-working actors of the show’s ensemble, who play everything from hyperactive puppies and strutting roosters to self-important turkeys and a comic flock of ducks.

If there’s a flaw in the show, it’s in its physical scale: The scenic design of Eric J. Van Wyk is winsome and simple, not much more than a suggestion of a fenced-in pasture and a few hay bales. The design serves the show well, but it seems somewhat undersized on CTC’s main stage. Too, though the 10-member cast can hardly be called undersized, the double- and triple-casting of minor roles — though plenty of fun — occasionally creates the sense of under-population.

The name recognition from the movie was almost certainly a factor in artistic director Brosius’ decision to select “Babe” in a CTC season whose theme seems to be “Ticket Sales.” But his enchantingly successful production proves that populism needn’t necessarily be piffle.

So, have you seen Dean Holt in “Babe, The Sheep Pig?” If so, what did you think? Share your reviews in the comments section.