Created by the PigPen Theatre Co., started by a group of freshmen in 2007 at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, The Old Man and The Old Moon is an interactive musical, including song, dance, puppetry, and all manner of derring-do. The current Theatre in the Park production of this show tells a story about an old man who must abandon his duties of filling up the moon with liquid light to cross the seas in search of his missing wife.
This may sound like a simple child’s tale, but this production is so much more. The story is indeed simple, but it is reminiscent of the film The Princess Bride in its sheer joy and in its crossover appeal to adults. In this TIP presentation, the whole is more than the sum of its parts, because Nancy Rich has directed a flawless cast that keeps the audience smiling from beginning to end. Rich also acts as choreographer; and even though there is little dancing, there is much seamless movement on the stage.
Katherine Anderson’s music direction is also spot-on, and many of the cast members play instruments to support the band. The music is heavily inspired by a sea chanty style that is well supported by cello, flute, and mandolin. Although the songs are not necessarily memorable, they advance the story quite nicely in both lyrics and tone. There are more ensemble pieces than solo numbers, and all of them sound great.
The cast is flawless as well, with particular kudos going to Rod Rich (The Old Man) and Rhonda Lemon (Llewellyn). But my highest praise goes to Ty Myatt, who pulled triple duty as Matheson, frequent narrator, and troubadour, showing equal talent in voice, guitar, and mandolin. This is the most prepared cast that I have ever seen for an opening-night performance.
Nathaniel Conti’s set, Alicia Varcoe’s lighting, Rachel McKay’s costumes, and Abigail Kuchar’s props worked well; but the various and innovative forms of puppetry (also by Abigail Kuchar) really enhance the audience experience. Children will be enormously entertained, but there were very few of them at Friday’s opening-night performance, and the adults seemed just as pleased. There are no bad seats in the Ira David Wood III Pullen Park Theatre in Raleigh, NC; and even though the house was nearly full Friday night, there were still tickets to be had.
I must caution prospective audience members about one thing. There is a lot of construction going around the theater, which is located in Pullen Park on the N.C. State University campus, and parking is an issue. TIP has been using a nearby baseball field for extra parking, but it was unavailable Friday, due to recent rain.
There is plenty of parking available in the vicinity of the theater, but it could be a longer walk in the winter cold. You will be fine if you plan to arrive 15 minutes sooner than you might otherwise plan to arrive.
This show is a little more expensive than some local theater and less so than others. In any case, I would consider this production to be an excellent value and highly recommend it for you and your kids.
SECOND OPINION: Feb. 13th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: https://indyweek.com/events/old-man-old-moon-theatre-in-the-park-february-2020/; Feb. 13th Raleigh, NC WRAL.com interview with actors Rod Rich and Brett Williams, conducted by Ken Smith: https://www.wral.com/the-old-man-and-the-old-moon-opens-at-theatre-in-the-park/18950674/; and February 2020 Raleigh, NC Midtown Magazine preview: http://www.midtownmag.com/the-old-man-and-the-old-moon.
Theatre in the Park presents THE OLD MAN AND THE OLD MOON at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15, 3 p.m. Feb. 16, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20-22, 3 p.m. Feb. 23, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 and 29, and 3 p.m. March 1 in the Ira David Wood III Pullen Park Theatre, 107 Pullen Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
TICKETS: $33 ($27 students, seniors 60+, and active-duty military personnel), except $24 per person for groups of 10 or more.
BOX OFFICE: 919-831-6058, email@example.com, or https://theatreinthepark.secure.force.com/ticket/#/events/a0S1K00000J6QVrUAN.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-831-6058 or http://theatreinthepark.com/whatson/group-sales.
SHOW: https://www.theatreinthepark.com/whats-on/the-old-man-the-old-moon.html and https://www.facebook.com/events/496134677705216/.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: https://www.facebook.com/pg/theatreintheparkraleigh/videos/, https://youtu.be/ci1rJRHpEs4, and https://vimeo.com/388595974.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.theatreinthepark.com/, https://www.facebook.com/theatreintheparkraleigh, https://twitter.com/TheatreInPark, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theatre_in_the_Park.
NOTE: All shows are wheelchair/walker accessible, and large-print playbills are usually available.
The Old Man and the Moon (interactive musical): http://www.pigpentheatre.com/the-old-man-and-the-old-moon (official web page).
PigPen Theatre Co. (book, music, and lyrics): http://www.pigpentheatre.com/ (official website), https://www.facebook.com/PigPenTheatreCo (Facebook page) and https://twitter.com/PigPenTheatreCo (Twitter page).
Nancy Gardner Rich (director and choreographer): https://www.facebook.com/nancy.g.rich.3 (Facebook page).
Robert O’Connell is new to the Triangle, but not to the stage. As a playwright, he has had dozens of productions and awards throughout the world. He has an MS degree in Management Systems Analysis. A lifelong educator, O’Connell has also published three novels at http://www.flashmobthenovel.com/ and two humor anthologies from his blog, https://thesmartestguyiknow.wordpress.com/. He and his wife have settled in Cary, NC. Click here to read his reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.