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The Tale of Despereaux

July 06 - August 11

Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage
Old Globe Theatre
Conrad Prebys Theatre Center

The Tale of Despereaux


Book, music, and lyrics by PigPen Theatre Co.
Based on the novel by Kate DiCamillo and the Universal Pictures animated film
Directed by Marc Bruni and PigPen Theatre Co.

The acclaimed PigPen Theatre Co. charmed and astonished Old Globe audiences with The Old Man and The Old Moon. Now they return to San Diego, bringing their one-of-a-kind theatrical and musical inventiveness to Kate DiCamillo’s beloved, Newbery Medal–winning modern fable. Despereaux is a courageous mouse who dreams of becoming a knight. He sets off on a noble quest that will take him down into dungeons and up to the heights of a castle tower to rescue a beautiful human princess—but the dark-hearted rat Roscuro has other ideas. The Boston Herald proclaims, “PigPen Theatre Co. is already a phenomenon,” while The New Yorker says, “It’s like watching child geniuses at play!” Full of gorgeous music, stunning stage effects, witty performances, and a message of optimism and community, The Tale of Despereaux is an inspiring and beguiling story for all ages.


Song List

Running time: One hour and 35 minutes. There is no intermission.

Production Sponsors
Peter Cooper and Erik Matwijkow
Silvija and Brian Devine
Hal and Pam Fuson

Artist Sponsor for PigPen Theatre Co.
Jeanette Stevens

Artist Sponsor for Marc Bruni (Director)
Sue and Edward "Duff" Sanderson


Cast and Creatives



PigPen Theatre Co. (Book, Music, Lyrics, Co-Directors) last performed at The Old Globe in The Old Man and The Old Moon in 2017. They began creating their unique brand of theatre, music, and film as freshmen at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama in 2007. They have since produced their original plays in New York City and toured the country, earning them Critic’s Picks from The New York Times, Time Out New York, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, The Boston Globe, and many more, and ranking them in the top 10 theatrical events of 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2016. They were the first group to win the New York International Fringe Festival’s top honor for a play two years in a row (2010 and 2011), and they have since gone on to win IRNE (2012, 2015) and Joseph Jefferson Awards (2014) for their theatrical productions. In 2016, Sir Trevor Nunn invited PigPen to be a part of his first American acting company for a production of Shakespeare’s Pericles. PigPen’s debut album, Bremen, was named No. 10 album of the year in The Huffington Post’s 2012 Grammy Awards preview, sending PigPen on tour playing to sold-out crowds across the country. American Songwriter premiered their follow-up EP, The Way I’m Running, in 2013 while the band was playing a series of concerts that became one of the most popular residencies of the past decade at the legendary Schubas Tavern in Chicago. In 2015, PigPen released their sophomore album, Whole Sun; performed at Mumford & Sons’s return to the Gentlemen of the Road festival; and made their feature film debut in Jonathan Demme’s Ricki and the Flash starring Meryl Streep. In addition to The Tale of Despereaux, they are creating a musical based on Sara Gruen’s beloved novel Water for Elephants (in collaboration with Rick Elice). In 2020, they will premiere their first interactive theatrical experience, The Phantom Folktales, for Richard Branson’s groundbreaking cruise line Virgin Voyages.

Marc Bruni (Co-Director) is currently represented on Broadway and U.S. tour with the Tony, Olivier, and Grammy Award–winning Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. He won the Helpmann Award for Best Direction of a Musical for its Australian production, and the show has also played the West End, U.K. tour, and Japan. His other credits include Paint Your Wagon, Pipe Dream, Fanny, and Hey, Look Me Over! (City Center Encores!), The Music Man and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (The Kennedy Center), Old Jews Telling Jokes (New York and Chicago; Joseph Jefferson Award nomination), Roman Holiday (Golden Gate Theatre), Trevor (Writers Theatre; Jeff Award nomination), The Explorers Club (Manhattan Theatre Club), The Sound of Music (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Other People’s Money (Long Wharf Theatre; Connecticut Critics Circle Award nomination), Presto Change-O (Barrington Stage Company), and Ordinary Days (Roundabout Theatre Company). He has directed nine musicals for The Muny in St. Louis, most recently My Fair Lady and Singin’ in the Rain, and he has twice been nominated for Kevin Kline Awards. He is a proud member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and a graduate of Dartmouth College.

Jason Sherwood (Scenic Design) is a Drama Desk Award, Lucille Lortel Award, and Henry Hewes Design Award nominee. He previously designed the Globe’s productions of Ken Ludwig’s The Gods of Comedy and Red Velvet. Sherwood recently designed Rent: Live; Sam Smith’s arena world tour and campaign television appearances (including “The Grammy Awards,” “Saturday Night Live,” and “Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show”); the Spice Girls world tour; and “The People’s Choice Awards”on E! He has also designed for New York Theatre Workshop, The Playwright’s Realm, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, American Repertory Theater, and Guthrie Theater, among many others. @JasonSherwoodDesign.

Anita Yavich (Costume Design) designed the Broadway productions of Fool for Love, Venus in Fur, Chinglish, and Anna in the Tropics. Her other New York credits include The Mother (Atlantic Theater Company), Apologia (Roundabout Theatre Company), Soft Power and Oedipus El Rey (The Public Theater’s New York Shakespeare Festival), The View Upstairs (Lynn Redgrave Theater), The Legend of Georgia McBride, Coraline, and The Wooden Breeks (MCC Theater), Nathan the Wise, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Orlando, New Jerusalem, and Texts for Nothing (Classic Stage Company), Thom Pain (based on nothing), Big Love, Kung Fu, Golden Child, and Iphigenia 2.0 (Signature Theatre Company), The Oldest Boy (Lincoln Center Theater), The Moors (The Playwrights Realm), The Explorers Club (Manhattan Theatre Club), and Macbeth, Coriolanus, and Švejk (Theatre for a New Audience). Her opera credits include Aida (San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera, Seattle Opera), Cyrano de Bergerac (La Scala, The Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House), and Les Troyens (The Met). Yavich was also the puppet and costume designer for The Sound of Music (Salzburger Marionettentheater). She has received Obie, Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk, and Ovation Awards. Upcoming she will design Der Ring des Nibelungen for Opera Australia in Brisbane.

Isabella Byrd (Lighting Design) is a Brooklyn-based designer. She received an Obie Award for her design of Caryl Churchill’s Light Shining in Buckinghamshire directed by Rachel Chavkin at New York Theatre Workshop. Her recent New York credits include Jeremy O. Harris’s “Daddy” (The New Group/Vineyard Theatre), Plano (Clubbed Thumb), Continuity (Manhattan Theatre Club), and The Thanksgiving Play (Playwrights Horizons). Her regional work includes Seascape (American Conservatory Theater), The Member of the Wedding and Artney Jackson (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Angels in America (co-designer) and the 2018 Humana Festival (Actors Theatre of Louisville), and other designs (Portland Center Stage, City Theatre). Byrd’s upcoming productions include work at Williamstown Theatre Festival, Playwrights Horizons, Westport Country Playhouse, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Hartford Stage, and Alley Theatre. isabellabyrd.design.

Nevin Steinberg (Sound Design) previously designed The Old Globe’s production of Bright Star. His Broadway credits include Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, Hadestown, The Cher Show, Bandstand, Bright Star, It Shoulda Been You, Mothers and Sons, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Tony Award nomination), The Performers,and Magic/Bird. His Off Broadway credits include Dear Evan Hansen, Hamilton, The Landing,and Far from Heaven. He has designed over 30 Broadway productions with Acme Sound Partners, receiving five additional Tony nominations, for The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, Fences, Hair, and In the Heights.

Lydia Fine (Puppetry Co-Design) is a New York City–based designer and award-winning creative director. She has been working with PigPen Theatre Co. since their days together at Carnegie Mellon University. When Fine is not playing with shadow puppets, she is working in various media, creating worlds and characters for films, music videos, photo shoots, and immersive events. lydiafine.com.

Nick Lehane (Puppetry Co-Design) worked previously with PigPen Theatre Co. as the puppet designer for The Phantom Folktales and the understudy for The Old Man and The Old Moon. Hispuppetplay Chimpanzee premiered earlier this year at HERE Arts Center. His original puppet work has shown at St. Ann’s Warehouse, Puppet BloK at Dixon Place, The Jim Henson Carriage House, Special Effects Festival at wild project, and Pillsbury House Theatre. Lehane’s select puppet performances include Robin Frohardt’s The Plastic Bag Store and The Pigeoning (HERE Arts Center, international tour), Petrushka (Giants Are Small, New York Philharmonic, Barbican Centre), Islamic Solidarity Games Opening Ceremonies (Baku, Azerbaijan), Doug Fitch’s El Retablo de Maese Pedro (American Symphony Orchestra, Bard SummerScape), James Ortiz’s The Little Mermaid (Glass Bandits Theater Company, Strangemen Theatre Company), and “Lore” (Amazon). He also provided puppet and movement direction for SeaWife (Naked Angels). Lehane received his B.F.A. in Drama from Carnegie Mellon University.

Jennifer Jancuska (Choreography) is currently working on Broadway as Resident Choreographer/Dance Supervisor of Hamilton. As choreographer, she is developing Hood with Mark Brokaw; Anne of Green Gables, A New Musical with Matte O’Brien and Matt Vinson; and Johnny and the Devil’s Box with Douglas Waterbury-Tieman. As creative director and choreographer of Jennifer Jancuska + The BringAbout, she produces development platforms via A•STIR Lab, The BringAbout Salon, and BC Beat. As a choreographer and associate choreographer/director, her work has been seen at Madison Square Garden, The Public Theater, New York City Center, Skirball Cultural Center, Dallas Theater Center, Royal George Theatre, Flat Rock Playhouse, Trinity Repertory Company, Theater for the New City, and The Drama League. Jancuska has taught at New York University, Syracuse University, Ithaca College, Pace University, University of the Arts, College of Charleston, and Shanghai Theatre Academy. She is a graduate of Cornell University. jenniferjancuska.com, @jencuska.

Christopher Jahnke (Music Director) orchestrated the Broadway and/or London productions of King Kong, Legally Blonde, Cry-Baby, Grease (2007 revival), Dessa Rose, A Man of No Importance, Dear Evan Hansen (additional orchestrations, with Alex Lacamoire), Stiles and Drewe’s The Wind in the Willows, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (Tony Award nomination for Best Orchestrations), and Les Misérables (new orchestrations, performed worldwide since 2006). His other orchestrations include Do You Hear the People Sing?, a symphonic tour of Boublil and Schönberg’s work; Stiles and Leigh’s Tom Jones; Stiles and Drewe’s Just So; Bartram and Hill’s Not Wanted on the Voyage; Lady Gaga’s tribute to The Sound of Music at the 2015 Oscars (with Stephen Oremus); The Wiz Live!; Radio City Music Hall’s New York Spectacular and Christmas Spectacular; and work with Rufus Wainwright, Emily Bear, Adam Schlesinger, and Jägermeister Blaskapelle. On Broadway, Jahnke also served as conductor for Aida and music supervisor for Escape to Margaritaville and Memphis. He was apprentice and assistant to orchestrator William David Brohn on Sweet Smell of Success, Ragtime, The Secret Garden, The Three Musketeers, The Witches of Eastwick, Mary Poppins, and Wicked.

Tara Rubin Casting (Casting) has cast the Globe’s productions of Ken Ludwig’s The Gods of Comedy, Life After, The Heart of Rock & Roll, Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest, Guys and Dolls, Othello, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Dog and Pony, A Room with a View, and others. Their select Broadway credits include Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of The Temptations, King Kong, The Band’s Visit, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, Prince of Broadway, Bandstand, Indecent, Sunset Boulevard, Miss Saigon, Dear Evan Hansen, A Bronx Tale The Musical, Cats, Falsettos, Disaster!, School of Rock, Gigi, Bullets Over Broadway, Aladdin, Les Misérables, The Heiress, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Billy Elliot: The Musical, Shrek The Musical, Young Frankenstein, Mary Poppins, Spamalot, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Producers, Mamma Mia!, Jersey Boys, and The Phantom of the Opera. Their Off Broadway credits include Gloria: A Life; Smokey Joe’s Cafe; Clueless, The Musical; The Band’s Visit; Here Lies Love;and Love, Loss, and What I Wore. They have also cast regionally for McCarter Theatre Center, Yale Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Paper Mill Playhouse, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and more.

Libby Unsworth (Production Stage Manager) is thrilled to be back at The Old Globe, having previously stage managed Barefoot in the Park and The Old Man and the Old Moon. Her Broadway credits include Prince of Broadway, Les Misérables, The Visit, and Scandalous. Her Off Broadway credits include The Niceties and Sell/Buy/Date (Manhattan Theatre Club), The Beast in the Jungle (Vineyard Theatre), At Home at the Zoo (Signature Theatre Company), Fire and Air (Classic Stage Company), Murder for Two (New World Stages), Bunnicula: A Rabbit Tale of Musical Mystery (DR2 Theatre), Next Fall (Naked Angels), and Speech & Debate (Roundabout Theatre Company). She has worked regionally at The 5th Avenue Theatre, George Street Playhouse, Two River Theater, Williamstown Theatre Festival (eight seasons), Geffen Playhouse, Goodspeed Musicals, and Huntington Theatre Company. She received her B.F.A. in Stage Management from Boston University.


Vicki and Carl Zeiger Insights Seminars

This series provides Old Globe patrons with an opportunity to closely connect with productions both onstage and backstage. A panel selected from the artistic company of each show (playwrights, actors, directors, designers, and/or technicians) engages patrons in an informal and illuminating presentation of ideas and insights to enhance the theatre going experience. Each Insights Seminar takes place 90 minutes before curtain time on the Tuesday after performances begin, and includes an informal reception 30 minutes before the start. FREE; no reservations necessary.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at 5:30 p.m.


Post-Show Forums

Join us after the show for an informal and enlightening question-and-answer session with cast members. Get the "inside story" on creating a character and putting together a professional production. Post-show forums are scheduled after select Tuesday and Wednesday evening performances. FREE; no reservations necessary.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


“A charming and inventive musical! Beautifully realized, intricately staged and smartly conceived.” The San Diego Union-Tribune

“Enchanting! Despereaux delights with its ingenious props, inventive visual effects, and a grand fairy-tale set! While the story is simple enough for children to enjoy, it’s adults who will most appreciate this world premiere musical.” San Diego CityBeat

“A fantastical musical journey! Charmingly whimsical—PigPen Theatre Co. has created a beautiful and spirited piece of theatre.” BroadwayWorld

“Hats off to The Old Globe and PigPen Theatre Co.! If there’s a child in your life in whom you want to foster a love of the literary arts, this is a great show to take them to. And you will find the child in you excited, delighted, and satisfied!” San Diego Jewish World