Live show brings rainforest to the stage

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published March 12, 2015


SOUTHFIELD — Parrots and alligators and snakes, oh my.

Students and families of Morris Adler and Stevenson elementary schools took a trip to the rainforest March 6 while viewing “The Rainforest Live,” a stage production showcasing the various animals that call the dense, damp areas their home.

For a $5 admission, a rambunctious audience packed the gym at Adler Elementary, 19100 Filmore St., to see live macaws, boa constrictors and lemurs.

Mike Kohlrieser, who is the founder and director of “The Rainforest Live,” and who handled all of the animals onstage, said the company tours elementary schools in the U.S. to educate children on the rainforest and how many animals are facing extinction and endangerment.

Based in Wapakoneta, Ohio, and traveling the country since 1992, the show features animals born in the U.S., according to company secretary Brenda Lippincott.

“All the animals come from breeders in the U.S. They’re not taken from the wild,” Lippincott said.

The production was also a hands-on one, in which audience members and the animals interacted directly. At one point, Kohlrieser asked for a volunteer, parent Douglas Evans, to hold out a dollar bill in his hand, and instructed a blue and gold macaw, Kelly, to fly out to Evans, retrieve the dollar bill, and bring it back.

“Don’t you worry about a thing. We have really good insurance,” Kohlrieser joked with the crowd.

“It wasn’t bad. You could feel the claws, though. It was like a light scratch,” Evans said.

During a brief intermission, students and parents were also able to come onstage and hold a red tailed boa constrictor.

Cousins Samaya Sartin and Kierra Manuel got the chance to touch the reptile.

“It felt very mushy,” Sartin said.

“It was kind of rubbery,” Manuel said.

Kaneisha Sartin, Samaya Sartin’s mom and Manuel’s aunt, said she brought the students to see the show to find out what it was all about.

“This is our first year. She’s been (at Adler Elementary) three years and we’ve never heard of it. She begged me to come, and I’m really enjoying myself, it’s awesome,” Kaneisha Sartin said.

Adler Principal Jerry Tait said the production has visited the school twice, and each time, the reaction from the students and parents is a positive one.

“Kids love it, parents love it. It’s sort of like bringing the zoo to the kids,” Tait said.