Pye plays ‘Piggie’ at Presbyterian College
by The Press and Standard | February 7, 2019 5:00 pm
Last Updated: February 6, 2019 at 9:21 am
Last weekend was a busy one for Walterboro’s Haley Pye.
Pye, a senior at Presbyterian College, was on the stage as one of the two leads in the college’s Musical Theater’s production of children’s book author Mo Willems’ “Elephant & Piggie’s: We are in a Play!”
The musical is the story of an unlikely friendship between an elephant named Gerald and a pig named Piggie.
Pye, the daughter of Dr. Shannon and Robin Pye, had the role of Piggie. Jerius Duncan of Piedmont played Gerald.
The five-member cast rounded out with three additional animal characters: three squirrels called Squirrelles.
Between Feb. 1-5, the cast gave five performances.
Two of the performances were special matinees for hundreds of youngsters, kindergarten through second-grade students.
For many of the children, this performance will likely be their first exposure to live theater, said Dr. Christian Elser, associate professor of music and director of the college’s Music Theatre and Opera program. “I remember as a kid how amazing that was, to see live theater,” Elser said.
Pye agreed, “Performing for a young audience is amazing! Oftentimes, adults will hesitate to respond to a show or feel self-conscious about engaging with a show, but kids have no such reservations.”
“Their genuine responses to every joke, slapstick bit and song are incredibly enthusiastic, and the energy kids give off as an audience is something hard to find anywhere else,” she said. “They fuel the performance just by being happy to be there!”
The one-act production follows best friends Elephant and Piggie during one day. There is a brief conflict and resolution before the characters realize they are in a play. The music is fun and accessible with styles ranging from swing to traditional rock ‘n’ roll.
“There’s some audience participation, and it’s a lot of fun,” Elser said.
“It’s about friendship,” Elser explained. “Friendship doesn’t mean you have to look the same or like all of the same things. It’s about caring and respect for the differences that make us all unique.”
Pye has been a member of the Musical Theatre and Opera program for four years. While in college, she played Young Frog and other ensemble roles in the musical “Frog and Toad,” The Flapper in an original, off-book show, “Songs of the Jazz Age,” and the role of Belinda in the Purcell opera “Dido and Aeneas.”
A 2015 graduate of Colleton Prep, she performed as a part of the Colleton Prep Chorus for five years and participated in a handful of shows in the Children’s Theater program when she was in elementary school. When not at college, she also occasionally sings with the First Baptist Church of Walterboro Choir.
At Presbyterian College, Pye is working towards degrees in music and English; she is also pursuing a minor in history.
“I decided to take on a double major in music and English because, above all, I wanted to pursue what I was passionate about,” she said.
“Writing and literature have always been a constant in my life, but the love of music and performance did not take root until I was in high school,” Pye said. “In both majors, study of the history surrounding works is incredibly important, context is key, and so a history minor nicely supplements both fields — though I always have had a predilection towards history as well.
“After graduating college I hope to pursue a career in writing, ideally either as some form of critic or columnist, especially with a focus on the arts, though right out of college I will be happy with whatever opportunities I can find in the field,” she said.