By Alec Clayton
Emerging from its COVID-19 hibernation like Punxsutawney Phil from his hideaway, Olympia Family Theater kicked off its belated season with a pair of excellent shows. Fully Vaxxed, a hilarious trio of one-act plays with important messages, performed at OFT and is now on a tour of Washington state. Then came an astonishing giant-puppet show, The Paper Moon, written and created by String and Shadow Puppet Theater during the early months of the pandemic.
The Paper Moon first went up as a drive-in show in a downtown parking lot. OFT has now imported it to its own stage, with cleverly designed props in front of a beautiful backdrop. It’s performed by a team of talented, expressive puppeteers: Dylan Clifthorne, Luz Gaxiola, Emily McHugh and Donald Palardy III. The show’s simple, inspirational story is narrated from offstage by Marissa Bolaños and Elizabeth Lord.
The moon falls from the sky into water, where it shrinks into a pebble. Officious officials and pompous politicians solve the problem of moonless nights by pasting a paper moon into the sky. Their solution doesn’t work very well, however: Without the inspiration of the real moon, artists no longer make art, lovers no longer fall in love, and people become dull, pedestrian and easily managed. The officious officials and pompous politicians love that, of course, but some people want the moon back. With the help of an old fisherman, a magical garden and some rascally raccoons from the town dump — plus music, dancing and plenty of laughs — the story is resolved in a most delightful way.
Kudos to Olympia Family Theater, codirectors McHugh and Palardy III and lighting designers Jill Carter and Jupiter Sky Shellman for a wonderful spectacle. On opening night, the audience of children and adults appeared to respond with equal delight.
The Paper Moon
7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 22 and 23:
3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 23 and 24
Olympia Family Theater,
612 Fourth Ave. E, Olympia