note: entire contents copyright 2011 by Sheila Barth
Like creative boys filled with playful glee, the seven members of PigPen Theatre Company frolic for an hour in the world premiere of their fabled, fanciful one-act play, “The Mountain Song”.
Pleased to present the youthful graduates of Carnegie Mellon, (who took the top award at the New York International Fringe Festival recently), East Boston native Greg Maraio, Company One’s director of Second Stage programming, said he’s delighted the group has affiliated with Company One to present “The Mountain Song” in Boston.
The group of seven, who formed in 2007 when they were freshmen at Carnegie Mellon, includes: Alex Falberg, who was born in Kharkov, Ukraine, immigrated to Shaker Heights, Ohio, and plays the banjo, mandolin and piano; Arya Shahi of Tucson, Ariz., PigPen’s percussionist; Ben Ferguson of Austin, Texas, who plays guitar and banjo; Curtis Gillen of Pittsburgh, Pa., bass and ukelele player; Ryan Melia, of Acton (Mass.), guitarist, banjo and fiddle player; Dan Weschler of central Pennsylvania, founding member, main accordionist and accordion consultant; and Matt Neurnberger of Chicago, pianist and guitarist.
Using simple, homemade objects and mostly acoustic instruments, the group enacts its original story of a carpenter living in the mountains, whose daughter, Abigail, sends a message that she’s getting married in two weeks, in a gazebo, near a river, and he’s invited. Abigail can’t talk, but she learned to read and write, moved to the city and became a famous writer. Unfortunately, the messengers forgot which river the wedding will be celebrated near. The mountain looms over three rivers, so the carpenter travels for years, scaling and descending, using his skills to create items, to reach each river faster. Along the way, he encounters some wacky people, hunters, a hungry coyote, and a kindly, helpful Paul Bunyanesque creature named Emmet Jones. He fashions a geometric boxlike structure into size 239 wooden shoes to help Emmet walk, then converts one of those shoes into a boat for himself. Exhausted, dehydrated and disheartened, the carpenter collapses on the mountain, where his young granddaughter and daughter finally find him and bring him home.
Maraio said “The Mountain Song” is great for families, because of its charming storytelling, soft music with fairytale lyrics and innovative use of everyday items to create unusual lighting and stage effects.
Three performers arch a large blanket to create the mountain, while the carpenter fingerwalks its slopes. The carpenter fashions white wings to soar above the mountain, and befriends a goose before hunters shoot it. The carpenter’s giant wings are later used as sails for his rudimentary boat, and strangely crafted metal objects that resemble crossbows represent foreboding large crows.
A screen flashing cut-out silhouettes, simulates action and scenes.
The group’s nimble, swift movements, sweet, soft voices and simplistic items produce a magical aura that enchants children and the young-at-heart. Expect the kids to go home and create their own “Mountain Song”.
BOX INFO: One-act, one-hour world premiere of PigPen Theatre Company’s newest show, presented through Company One, appearing through June 25, at the Calderwood Pavilion, Hall A, (second floor) Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St., South End, Boston. Performances are Wednesday, Thursday, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 4,8 p.m. Tickets:$25; students with IDs, all shows, $15; Wild Wednesdays, all seats $18. Call 617-933-8600, visit www.BostonTheatreScene.com or the Box Office.