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The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show


Dive into Eric Carle’s bright and colourful world as his beloved stories are transformed from page to stage using a menagerie of 75 lovable puppets and charming music. Featuring your favourite titles: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, 10 Little Rubber Ducks, The Very Lonely Firefly and of course, the star of the show, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Created by Jonathan Rockefeller, the critically acclaimed The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show is a vibrant celebration of Eric Carle’s adored classics and the perfect introduction to live theatre.

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show ON TOUR

Our review on The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show

The Very Hungry Caterpillar - The Lowry, Salford - Tuesday 11th April 2023 by Karen Ryder

Our Rating

Children and adults are immediately in awe as we are introduced to the first of the 75 or so puppets.  The docile brown bear beguiles us with its sheer size and manipulation from its puppeteer.  As the book asks the bear, “What do you see?”, an array of impressive puppet animals emerge onto the stage, each taking their moment in the spotlight.  For those who know the book, you won’t be disappointed as we meet red bird, purple cat, white dog, black sheep, and all the other gorgeous characters. 


The actors speak calmly, clearly, and almost hypnotically, creating a tender and nurturing atmosphere for this very young audience and their grown-ups.  They tell us the story but also bring these puppets to life with a gentle humour and loving touch.  The detail is great, such as the cheeky sheep that sneezes all over one actor and bumps another one on the bottom.  The cat delicately licks its paws, whilst the frog bounds all over the stage, enticing the mini guests to jump out of their seats to join in.  The set consists of three large white boards, that reminded me of blank pages ripped out of a book, and each have windows and doors in them, which create superb surprise entrances for each of the puppets.  The white design also acts as a great blank canvas for lights to be projected onto it, giving us the familiar print of coloured dots from The Very Hungry Caterpillar, to a multitude of changing colours and patterns, including ripples of water for our next story, 10 Little Rubber Ducks.


10 Little Rubber Ducks immediately unleashed involuntary quacks from the excited children.  The actors start the story off, explaining that 10 rubber ducks have been packed into a box and shipped across the sea, but as the box fell overboard, each little duck begins a magical journey of their own.  We indeed meet all 10 of the rubber ducks, and as a swathe of blue material is attached between two of the white boards, it creates a puppet screen, allowing the ducks to all bob along on top of the water.  One by one the ducks separate as they float off in different directions.  More impressive puppets are introduced, some behind the blue material, giving the impression that they are jumping out of the sea, such as the wonderful dolphin, and the whale that even breaches.  Others are paraded to the front of the stage such as the brilliant pink flamingo and the pelican – who even catches a fish!  Others, such as the barking seal, splashed around in front of the water, allowing us to see them in all their glory.  Each duck meets someone different on their journey, ensuring that these fantastic puppets just keep on coming, and each one is so unique, even as an adult at a children’s show, you can’t help but feel impressed.

The third story is The Very Lonely Firefly.  We meet the firefly and soon learn that this puppet is so perfectly made, it even lights up as a firefly would!  But this firefly cannot find his tribe and has been left all alone.  He desperately searches them out, following every light source with hope, only to be disappointed when they turn out to be a variety of dead ends, such as a candle, a torch, a lantern, and a house light.  Then, a cat and a glorious owl make their way onto stage, and as their eyes reflect in the moonlight (which is also a puppet), the firefly thinks that maybe, just maybe, this time there will be a family of fireflies waiting.  As the cat and the owl meet in the moonlight, there is a wonderful matrix style slow motion movement that sprinkled a little more magic into the theatre, resulting in collective whoaahh’s.  Eventually the firefly is reunited with a whole host of other fireflies and they all dance and light up over the heads of the excited audience.


Last, but certainly not least, is the story that everyone has been waiting for – The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  A giant leaf with an egg on is brought onto the stage, and immediately everyone pays just a little more attention, ready to meet the star of the show.  A small, plush and irresistibly cute caterpillar pops out of the egg and immediately gives us personality.  I have no idea how the puppeteer manages to do this, but he does and it is fascinating.  The caterpillar grows before our eyes and escapes the leaf in search of more food.  I have to point out that the movement of the caterpillar puppet is just brilliant and you can’t help but fall in love with this cute creature.  As he goes on his food rampage, the different foods he treats himself to are brought out as large wooden props, with flaps in that the caterpillar pops his head through to show he is munching his way through them.  It is very simple and very delightful. The children count out the fruits with the actors and join in with the story, highlighting that this really is a family favourite for all ages.  As the caterpillar gets hungrier and hungrier, more and more foods are brought out and he pops his head through each of them, showcasing those brilliant eyes we all know and love as they dominate the circle.  Then, when he is finally full, the caterpillar is replaced again with a much heftier one, ready for the next stage of his journey.  As he creates his cocoon, a sack style sleeping bag encases him, where we are told he will rest for a few weeks.  Even as this is carried off, the puppeteers don’t rest with their detail, giving it an occasional shake or jerk to show the caterpillar moving inside.  Then, the butterfly is revealed, to gasps and awes from the audience.  It is grand, colourful and beautiful, and more impressive is that it matches the patterns and colours of the butterfly in the book exactly!

The cast of this show know their craft inside out and manage to bring these inanimate objects to life with such ease, that you just feel a peace wash over you.  They provide unique voices for each of the speaking characters, portray them with such detail that you follow their intention of watching the puppet instead of them, and they make the whole thing entirely credible.  With no programmes for sale, I unfortunately do not know their names, but I want to give them a huge shout out.

I can’t finish this review without mentioning the audience.  Made up of a mixture of family groups, all with their youngest members, they were entranced.  This was a magical, safe space, where imagination and wonder flourished, and the ambience created by the talented cast ensured that enjoyment was had without the need to pump up a bunch of toddlers with adrenaline and then send them home bouncing off the walls.  The cast were like theatre whisperers!  This possibly has to be the most adorable audience I have ever sat in.  Whether it be the mini’s dressed up as The Hungry Caterpillar including caterpillar head pieces, others clutching the book and posing for photos in front of the spotted stage, or those with the caterpillar plush toys who copied the moves of the puppeteer, making their own caterpillars come to life, it felt special to be a part of it.  Thank you to The Very Hungry Caterpillar for inviting us to lunch.  We had a great time.




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