After a triumphant stint at San Diego’s The Old Globe, PigPen Theatre Co’s The Tale of Despereaux: A New Musical – which tells the escapades of one courageous mouse named Despereaux Tilling as he attempts to save Princess Pea from swaths of ever-malicious, outlawed rats – will grace the Berkeley Repertory Theatre for a six-week residency, starting the 21st.
With music and stage direction by New York City-based PigPen Theatre Co. that includes both literary and lyrical nods to the like-named 2003 fantasy novel by Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux: A New Musical is expected to be a clever, endlessly witty, rodent-themed delight, just in time for the holidays. The production is a shunning of traditional musical-theater as well, the on-stage “Penmates” testing the preconceived, narrow boundaries that trap actors, musicians, and composers.
To that point further, many of the cast members play multiple roles, some drastically dichotomous to ones performed earlier in the show. Below is the laudable cast list:
- Ben Euphrat, Logan Foster, Natasha Harris (Swing)
- Alex Falberg (Lester)
- Ben Ferguson (Furlough)
- Curtis Gillen (Louise, Most High Head Mouse)
- Leung Dorcas (Despereaux)
- Ryan Melia (Librarian, Prisoner)
- Betsy Morgan (Miggery Sow, Antoinette, Queen Rosemary)
- Matt Nuernberger (Botticelli)
- John Rapson (Roscuro)
- Arya Shahi (King Phillip)
- Yasmeen Sulieman (Princess Pea, Merlot)
- Dan Weschler (Stained-Glass Knight)
Directed by Marc Bruni – who made his Broadway directorial debut with the beloved Beautiful: The Carole King Musical – in tandem with the aforementioned theater company, this live-telling of the classic children’s book is likely to be a hit — as have been many of Berkeley Rep's holiday-season collaborations with the whimsical Kneehigh Theatre from the UK (The Wild Bride, Tristan & Yseult). James Hebert of The San Diego Tribune described the show’s premiere at The Old Globe as unmistakably “PigPen,” adding that the evocative, immersive imagery from DiCamillo’s fantastical storybook remains in full display.
(Expect world-class puppetry and shadowed visuals; a dazzling array of staged illumination that'll light-up the whites of your eyes; and of-era costumes, seemingly plucked from centuries prior.)
Showings of PigPen Theatre Co’s The Tale of Despereaux: A New Musical at Berkeley Repertory Theatre begin November 21st and run through January 5th of 2020. Purchase your tickets ($40 to $100) in advance, here.
Expect SFist to double-back with a complete review of the show.
Image: Twitter via @PigPenTheatreCo