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'The Old Man and The Old Moon' Captivates NEO Audiences

The musical The Old Man and The Old Moon, presented in the Norris Ely Orchard Theater last week, provided a whimsical escape for sold-out audiences throughout its four-show run, and showcased the variety and depth of talent among the students in Loomis Chaffee's Theater & Dance Department productions.

The story tells a fable of The Old Man, who is resistant to change. He dutifully collects light to keep a leaky moon shining as his wife, The Old Woman, tired of their routine and longing for a more romantic past, is drawn away by a nostalgic tune carried on the wind. Casting aside his obligation, The Old Man sets out on a pilgrimage to find The Old Woman. On his journey, he encounters sea-faring strangers, epic storms, angry ghosts, and other denizens of the deep. And in his pursuit of his love, The Old Man tempers his desire to maintain the status quo in a compromise that serves as an explanation for the phases of the moon.

Presented by an ensemble cast of 18 students, every performer on the stage was a storyteller, in keeping with the show's original concept, according to director David McCamish. Actors switched roles several times during each show by swapping hats or other accessories that denoted each character. By switching roles, each individual actor's perspective creatively inspired and enhanced the portrayal of the characters over the course of the show's one 90-minute act.

A unique indie-folk music score lent itself well to choreography inspired by folk dances. The musicians, including both students and guest professionals on guitar, banjo, accordion, violin, piano, and double bass, were expertly led by Melanie Guerin, who even taught herself to play the accordion for this show, her first NEO production as music director for Loomis Chaffee.

Visually captivating, the NEO stage took on an ethereal quality with a stage-scape that appeared to be lit by twinkling starlight and a glowing moon — a fitting backdrop for the show's otherworldly setting. Theatrical devices, including puppetry, sound and lighting tricks, imaginative props, and the integration of musicians into the stage action, all added to the delightful experience of the live performance.

The student actors, musicians, production team, and technicians worked alongside professional theatrical production professionals and Loomis Chaffee faculty in developing and presenting the show. And the original graphics for print and digital media promotions were designed by students in Christian Ryan's extracurricular graphic design class. The success of The Old Man and The Old Moon is testament to the collaborative efforts of all involved in the production.

The book, music, and lyrics of The Old Man and The Old Moon are by PigPen Theatre Co., and only recently became available for amateur and professional performances. PigPen Theatre Co. began creating its unique brand of theater, music, and film when its founders were freshmen at the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in 2007. The company has since charmed audiences across the country, earning critics' accolades from The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, and other media outlets.

Connect to a gallery of photos from The Old Man and The Old Moon.

Connect to the show's Playbill for a complete list of acknowledgements and cast and crew bios.