Edit ModuleShow Tags

5 Questions with PigPen Theatre Co. on “The Tale of Despereaux”

The super troupe returns to The Old Globe with an all-new musical


PigPen Theatre Co. performing The Old Man and the Old Moon

What began as seven college students with a creative spark has morphed into PigPen Theatre Co.’s rocket-fueled success story, punctuated by two full-length albums, sold-out national tours, a feature film cameo alongside Meryl Streep in Ricki and the Flash, and acclaim from highbrow publications like the New Yorker. In 2017 they enchanted local audiences with their readymade instruments in The Old Man and the Old Moon, a completely original tour de force of music, puppetry, and campfire folklore. Since then, theater companies across the country have begun licensing the rights to that show, including Coronado Playhouse. This month the talented troupe returns to The Old Globe with a world-premiere musical based on Kate DiCamillo’s beloved book The Tale of Despereaux. Here, we chat with actor Ryan Melia about PigPen’s new project and the art of telling stories en masse.


For The Tale of Despereaux, the cast will include additional actors beyond the original seven members of PigPen. How will that affect the dynamic?

We’re calling it a “PigPen plus” show, so it’s going to be a little enhanced. We’re just excited about having more voices and some female voices. The leads are going to be four people who are going to help take the story off the page in a way we couldn’t if it were just the seven of us.


How did your unique style evolve?

It came from all of us having similar tastes in what we liked growing up and what things we liked in theater. It’s theater that’s not about realism, but about the event of being in a room and telling a story and not putting up a wall between the audience and the performers.


Who were some of your main influences?

A theater company called The Suitcase Royale. They were just three guys from Australia, and their style of storytelling directly affected us in the sense that it was handmade, music driven, super goofy and ridiculous at points—kind of like a cartoon onstage—also with a sense of mystery. And Pixar is a big storytelling influence. Their audience is so broad; young people and older people can all agree that their movies are moving and funny and engaging.


You’ve had so much success over the last few years. What has been the highlight?

The first time we did a national tour as just a band. That was a really big jump, to say that we’d go to places in the middle of nowhere, and bring our music there, and people would come. That, and when we got to meet Meryl Streep.


What do you hope audiences take away from your new show?

It’s a story about people who have to go outside themselves and listen to other stories to get the full picture. If that comes across, that would be great, because that’s something we believe everyone could stand to hear.


See it!

The Tale of Despereaux
July 6–August 11
The Old Globe

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

The Must-See NASA-Inspired Exhibit in Barrio Logan

The making of Melissa Walter's Of All Things exhibit at Ice Gallery

Meet the COO of Feeding San Diego

Alicia Saake's on a mission to catch all the food she can—and then give it to hungry San Diegans

The SoCal (Social Calendar!)

From black-tie galas to costumed 5Ks, these events will keep your social calendar full—and you feeling good
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Where to Watch the Fireworks in San Diego this Independence Day
    Where to catch the fireworks displays in every corner of the county
  2. The Best of San Diego 2019
    Our annual compilation of everything delicious, cool, and Instagrammable in San Diego (and Baja!)
  3. The Best Veggie Burgers in San Diego
    The citywide hunt for the best plant-based burger found a clear winner
  4. What Will San Diego Look like in 2069?
    The City of San Diego is 250! Instead of looking back, we asked experts to predict how our city will look in 50 more years.
  5. The Best San Diego Happy Hours to Get You Through the Week
    All the best spots to take advantage of drink specials, cheap bites and more, from Pacific Beach to South Park
  6. First Look: Ciccia Osteria
    Husband-and-wife chefs take a break from high-end cuisine with a ‘little house’
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles

October is Rideshare Month

Join the Rideshare 2015 Challenge and get there together
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags


Wheelhouse Credit Union Reopens Downtown Branch

Completely remodeled branch brings a modern service experience to members

Kashi Cleans Up

Join the Solana Beach company and I Love a Clean San Diego for a beach cleanup July 13
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags