Unique and new holiday play opens at Key City Public Theatre

Posted 11/30/22

A feel good story for all ages is on its way into hearts for the holidays.

The curtain is set to rise at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec 1 on “New Moon: A Dog’s Tale” a newly commissioned …

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Unique and new holiday play opens at Key City Public Theatre

Posted

A feel good story for all ages is on its way into hearts for the holidays.

The curtain is set to rise at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1 on “New Moon: A Dog’s Tale” a newly commissioned play written and directed by Denise Kenney.

“It is a holiday play,” Kenney said. “It’s kind of a nod to all the great bedtime stories that we love, but it really is intended to be for all ages. It’s not just for kids.”

The play is the second in Key City Public Theatre’s 2022-2023 season, delivering an absurd romp about a human family facing change.

“I wrote it from my perspective where my daughter is going to be leaving home, so dealing with that, dealing with my aging parents, dealing with moving from your family home, and what are those things that hold us all together,” Kenney said.

What separates this play from many others is that it is all told from the perspective of the family dog, Oswald, played by Brendan Chambers.

“It’s quite lovely because dogs have this incredible ability to bring families together,” Kenney said. “But also dogs really sense what’s going on in a home, and so Oswald is sensing these big changes in his family, in his pack, and he gets everything wrong but in getting everything wrong he actually kind of gets everything right.”

It’s a comedy inspired by the likes of FX’s “Wilfred,” where actor Jason Gann plays the eponymous role as a man in a dog suit who everyone sees as a real dog.

“He’s not on all fours. He’s a dog, but he’s a character dog,” Kenney said of Oswald’s portrayal.

Through Oswald’s eyes, we learn the importance of food, merriment, and sitting by the fire.

At least, he says, that was his pack’s holiday tradition up until what he calls the “Big Shift,” when his pack begins unraveling.

“It’s all under the magic of moonlight,” Kenney said. “It’s the understanding of phases and changes in life and the metaphor really is the moon and the dog has this relationship to shadows and the moon.”

The atmosphere has an almost ethereal quality Kenney described as,  “a silver moonlight kind of play where you come into this universe and it’s like the whole thing is lit up by moonlight and the dog’s understanding of the moon.”

The two caregivers are played by Don Halquist and Camille Michelle Hildebrant who are both dancers that bring a physicality to the play adding to the imagistic quality.

Heightening that even further are fantastical costumes designed by local fiber artist Margie McDonald.

“It’s not realism, it’s storytelling,” Kenney said. “Magical storytelling.”

This surreal yet relatable quality Kenney employs makes sense when connected with the fact that she trained under the same mentor as Julie Taymor, the original director of Broadway’s “The Lion King.”

While by no means as over the top, this play is similarly written for families to be able to attend together, and not just traditional families. The word parent is never used in the play, instead “caregiver” is substituted throughout to give blended and chosen families outside the standard definition more space to connect.

And, of course, dog lovers will be right at home.

For more information about dates and tickets, go to keycitypublictheatre.org/newmoon.

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