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The Three Little Pigs, played by Jade Wagner, left, Joanna Holcomb and Erin Phillips, put the Big Bad Wolf, played by Devin Shelton, on trial during an Austin High School play practice.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
The Three Little Pigs, played by Jade Wagner, left, Joanna Holcomb and Erin Phillips, put the Big Bad Wolf, played by Devin Shelton, on trial during an Austin High School play practice.

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B.B. WOLF
The Wolf: Villain or victim? The Three Pigs: Innocent or at fault? Austin High will present the verdict with 'The Trial of the Big Bad Wolf'

By Patrice Stewart
pstewart@decaturdaily.com · 340-2446

He huffed and he puffed, and now the Big Bad Wolf is on trial for blowing away houses.

The Three Little Pigs of nursery-rhyme fame are the accusers when this updated tale is staged at Austin High School on Sunday and Monday.

Devin Shelton plays the defendant, Wallington Wellington Wolf III, in a pinstriped suit with furry paws and tail.

Members of the jury are well-known nursery-rhyme characters such as Little Red Riding Hood, Humpty Dumpty and Little Bo Peep.

The wolf has his day in court under the watchful eyes of Judge Wise O. Al, played by Roy Chase.

Is the wolf the villain or the victim? Are the three pigs innocent or at fault?

This show helps you examine both sides. Even the judge and jury come under suspicion, because they may be characters with pasts and secrets to hide instead of solid citizens. And it's easy for the media to turn this trial into a circus.

This jazzed-up child's tale is similar enough to the traditional version to entertain children but has enough new material to interest adults and teens.

The pigs put on snouts and plenty of stuffing, along with curly pink tails.

Jade Wagner, as Amadeus Pig, likes the part "when the wolf is chasing us and houses are falling down." Her house is made of straw, so it goes quickly.

"I'm the stupid pig, but by the end I kind of get smarter. And I get to eat a lot," she said, pulling snacks from her pockets.

Joanna Holcomb plays Marcellus Pig, and her favorite part is when the pigs interview the jurors.

"I'm not real stupid, but I'm not real smart, either," said the one whose house was made of sticks.

"I'm the smart pig," said Erin Phillips, whose role is Bartholomew Pig.

Her house is made of brick, and she brags in her rap number: "Theirs blew down but mine didn't fall, so I'm the smartest pig of all."

As the wolf, Shelton said he is able to play his character different ways at various points in the trial. "Sometimes I'm evil and mean, sometimes I'm nicer and sometimes I'm like a used car salesman," he said.

His favorite line is a sarcastic one: "I guess next they'll accuse me of depleting the ozone layer."

Little Red Riding Hood, played by Megan Shelton, wears her red hooded cape for jury duty.

"I'm a lot like my character, who is very shy and laid back," she said. "There are twists and turns in this tale, and the ending is a big surprise."

Her twin sister, Brianna Shelton, said she gets to "have opinions on everything and be very rude" in her role as Mistress Mary Quite Contrary. She carries around a watering can and flowers.

Elise Robinson plays Jack Sprat's wife "who can eat no lean," so she totes a tray of fruit with a turkey leg. And like the others, she said, she is "very melodramatic and over the top."

Other characters from nursery rhymes and fairy tales also serve in the jury. They include Amber Moore as Little Miss Muffet, Jeremy Jones as Old King Cole, Rew Walker and Chynna Jones as Jack and Jill, Elizabeth Eysenback as Little Bo Peep, Jimmy Rath as Jack Sprat, Kirk Averitt as Tom, Tom the Piper's Son, Damion Bankhead as Humpty Dumpty and Krista Thompson as Cinderella.

Ryan Meyer is a reporter, and Christina Crow is a newscaster. Sarah Tryon is the town crier, while Jalen Brown is the clerk. Olivia Cain plays a girl in the town.

Surprise witness

Austin drama teacher Susan Thompson said she wanted to do a play that was recognizable but still a bit different.

"I read the script, laughed out loud and thought it was adorable," she said. "And there's a surprise witness called at the end of the trial."

The show lasts about 50 minutes.

She has two student directors for the show. Caroline Cook said the "dynamics of the characters and their different personalities make it funny. They read nursery rhymes and then take them a step further."

Whitney Merrill said she has enjoyed watching the development of the play as a student director.

As of Tuesday, Thompson had 685 elementary students booked to see the Monday morning school show. Space is available for more, and the school group price is $3 each.

Teachers interested in booking their classes to attend should call her at 552-3060, ext. 251, or e-mail susan.thompson@dcs.edu.

If you go

What: “The Trial of the Big Bad Wolf” by Austin High School drama students

When: Sunday at 2 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m. (teachers may call about bringing their students to the 9 a.m. Monday school performance)

Where: Austin High auditorium

Tickets: $4, available at the door 45 minutes before show time ($3 for 9 a.m. Monday school performance when reserved in advance), 552-3060, ext. 251

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