Tuesday, May 28, 2019

“The Old Man And The Old Moon” Charms and Delights At Coronado Playhouse.

“The Old Man And The Old Moon” currently on stage at Coronado Playhouse through June 16th is a saga (“Once upon a time.”) that starts off innocently enough with an old man (Jacob Sampson) slowly climbing a ladder to the moon to refill it with liquid light, as there is a leak in the moon. He is the sole caretaker of the moon. If left unattended, well you guessed it darkness falls. When he comes down from his ladder, his wife (Kira Blaskovich) wants some help in the kitchen with dinner.

But the issue for her isn’t just dinner. She wants to go out for a stroll, a change in scenery, anything different. She’s tired of staying home all the time after years of marriage and being tied to the house. Both have forgotten what it was like when they first met and fell in love. That and an old tune that keeps playing in her head, has them curious enough to follow its origins.  
Cast of The Old Man and The Old Moon
When the old man makes excuses not to leave the house, (“he worked all day”) she leaves on her own in a boat no less, to who knew where (?) never telling her husband that she was leaving or where she was going.

The next morning when he awakens and she is nowhere to be found, he panics because he can’t fathom the idea of losing her. He drops everything and starts off on his own epic journey/odyssey around the moon and back to find her. What he encounters on this journey is a stretch of the imagination that touches on loss, memory and renewed faith in human kind. It’s all that and more.
PigPen Theatre Co’s “The Old Man and The Old Moon” tells it all. This is not ‘show and tell’. Nope, this is an epic yarn that seems to not have a beginning (“You see, most stories have a start and an end, so that you can put a hand on either side and carry it with you when it’s done. But this story don’t have a start nor an end, it’s hard to carry.  This is a story that’s endless and once you’ve heard it, you’re all wrapped up in it and its bound to carry you…”) and wanders into a sea of uncertainty; a no man’s island for the sake of a good story. 

The company ‘began creating their own unique brand of theatre, music, and film as freshmen in college, all seven. They studied at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama in 2007’.

Along with the tight and excellent ensemble and all who collaborated on the story and in particular, in this current production, it’s a yarn that has a way of tugging at your heartstrings. This is the second time out for this tall tale having made it’s West Coast Premiere about two years ago at the Old Globe Theatre and well worth seeing again or for the first time.

Jacob Sampson as THe Old Man
Now in a charming, delightful and appealing production and with director Desha Crownover’ at the helm,  “The Old Man And The Old Moon” is situated in a perfect spot in the compact Coronado Playhouse where it is being givin a timeless outing.

With visuals by Jacob Sampson’s scenic design of wooden boxes piled strategically as stairs, a stairway on either side of the stage, wooden planks and wooden platform, handwritten signs to signify places, canvas sheets stretched over wooden planks to allow for a bit of puppetry (Joe Fitzpatrick) a -la shadow screening, a rag mop atop a broomstick with plastic bottles morphs into a dog (shaggy dog?) and a cast of seven dressed in an eclectic collection of coveralls, overalls, wigs, head coverings, (Lisa Samson), we’re off and running.   

 Harrison Lang's live sound mixer, and Chad Oakley’s lighting design, and  actors playing multiple roles and a variety of instruments including guitars, harmonica, bottles, banjo, piano, drums and accordion, enter on to the stage, and the story begins.
Jacob Sampson and Kira Blaskovich
Music director Ian Brandon starts us off with Celtic folklore “Songs From The Stone”, and again when we leave “Old Man and Old Woman’s Theme” with about 15 to 20 musical numbers in between. The sound effects, written into the script emphasize the romance angle and  heighten the color of the mood or foreseeing impeding danger. The music is not necessarily main the focus but with a multi-talented group of musicians, yes, it's important.

The saga does wander a bit but manages to get back to basics and happy endings after all is said and done. Originally staged as a one act 90 -minute journey of self-discovery, there was one15 minute interlude in this particular production.   

On his journey
As the old man, Sampson is on a path that takes him places he never imagined, farther and farther away from his security as the ‘moon man’. He becomes a war hero, a navigator and comes face to face with surprises that test credulity all in an effort to find his wife and hear that melody that started the whole journey.

Sampson is pleasingly mellow, low keyed and consistently in character as the one constant. The rest of the crew/ensemble that take on the rest of the characters, come and go, set up scenes, arrange the sheets for sails, shadow puppets, and or play an instrument. This all happens seamlessly and without notice. They work together like a well -oiled machine.

Overall it might look like a work in progress, with lots of activity going on at the same time, but you shouldn’t be surprised that organized chaos is the best part of the this show. It works.
Heather Barton Tjalma and Dani Balmat
Hats off to musicians Emily Nuthall- Acoustic Guitar, Dani Balmart-Acoustic Guitar and Banjo, Joe Kao-Keyboard, Accordian, Russell Clements, Keyboard-Kira Blashovich and Santiago Valencia- Northrop on Percussion.


See you at the theatre.

Dates: Through June 16th
Organization: Coronado Playhouse
Phone: 619-435-4856
Production Type: Folk Lore
Where: 1835 Strand Way, Coronado, CA 92118
Ticket Prices: Start at $12.50
Web: coronaadoplayhouse.com
Venue: Coronado Playhouse
Photo: Ken Jacques


  1. The third dog in this post, Buddy, makes me feel nostalgic. You may or may not know this, but I used to have a dog named Buddy as well. I grew up with Buddy, my family's yellow lab, starting when I was in middle school. He died just this past January after spending twelve years with our family. I know Buddy is a really common name for a dog, but it still made me feel a connection!
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