Pigpen Theatre Co.’s The Tale of Despereaux is an enchanting adaptation of the 2003 fantasy novel by Kate DiCamillo and the animated film that followed five years later. While the story itself, about a courageous little mouse rescuing a beautiful kidnapped princess, is simple enough for children to understand and enjoy, it’s adults who will best appreciate this world-premiere musical at the Old Globe Theatre.
This is the seven-member Pigpen troupe’s second go-round at the Globe following 2017’s The Old Man and the Old Moon. While that production had its charms, The Tale of Despereaux is much more entertaining, possibly owing to the clever alternating of puppets and actors as the chief rodent characters, Despereaux and Roscuro the rat (who’s really the more compelling of the two). But in addition to the enthusiasm and versatile musicianship of the Pigpen players, Despereaux delights with its ingenious props, inventive visual effects and a grand fairytale set by Jason Sherwood. For the first time, too, Pigpen is employing actors as collaborators, among them the crystalline-voiced Taylor Iman Jones and Betsy Morgan, and spunky Bianca Norwood as Despereaux.
(Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 7/17/19.)
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David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.