The Moondog Madrigal Puppet Show is performed by An Exciting Event, a band of composer-performers who come together from across the United States to create, explore and celebrate music and puppetry, employing overlooked materials such as glass bottles, plastic milk jugs, and yard waste; vintage forms such as rounds, iambic couplets, cumulative sentences, themes and variations; and unconventional systems of tuning, rhythm and communication. They hail from Somerville, Andover, and Boston, MA; Urbana, IL; Philadelphia, PA; Guilford, VT; St. Paul, MN; Seattle, WA; and Dunsmuir, CA.
An Exciting Event interweaves the late Louis “Moondog” Hardin’s catchy and complex madrigal rounds with their own dazzling menagerie of musical instruments, rhyming couplets, projections, and rowdy crew of recycled-garbage puppets to tell a story of love, education, and a Giant Earthworm.
- Script, puppets, and projections by Marji Gere
- Graffiti (in projections and on this website) by Lewis Martinez
- Orchestrations by Dan Sedgwick, Jacob Barton, and Marji Gere
- Music and lyrics by Moondog (with a dash of Olivier Messiaen)
All members of the cast of the Moondog Madrigal Puppet Show wander fluidly among the roles of puppeteer, vocalist, and instrumentalist in this production. The cast is as follows:
JACOB BARTON, the Professor
DAN SEDGWICK, the Vandal
MARJI GERE, Kneena
ANDREW HEATHWAITE, the Angel
WILL GREEN, the Giant Earthworm
NATHAN JOHNSTON, JENNIE GERE, MORIAH NEILS, ADAM SCHUTZMAN, ZOE KEMMERLING, AMBER JOHNSON, LEMBIT BEECHER, the Student Body
For this show we used voices, concertina, melodica, string bass, French horn, toy piano, glockenspiel, frame drum, sandpaper blocks, floor tom, suspended cymbal, bike bell, claves, caixixi, djembe, harpsichord, udderbot, body percussion, violin, viola, coffee can with brushes, mandolin, banjo, bass drum, egg shaker, water jar tabla, jaw harp, music box, tambourine, Bb and A clarinets, bass clarinet, Elegance “Fingle” synthesizer, shhhh-tube, lion’s roar, Bebot, stylophone, shruti box, ratchet, tick-tock block, Opa drum, finger cymbals, washboard, castanets, dinner bell, alto & sopranino recorders, baritone horn, musical saw, and – finally – both amplified and acoustic super & double Big Gulps.
American composer, musician, poet, and instrument inventor Moondog was born Louis Hardin in Marysville, Kansas, in 1916. Blind from age 16, he lived for about twenty years (between the late 1940’s and mid 1970’s) on the streets of Manhattan, dressed in Viking garb and known as “The Viking of 6th Avenue.” He composed his upbeat, melodic, contrapuntal, and rhythmically intricate music in Braille, and recorded a series of albums during the 1950’s and 1960’s for the Prestige and Columbia record labels. He sold and performed his music in the street, along with his whimsical, philosophical rhymed couplets. He lived the last 25 years of his life in Germany, where he wrote and recorded a vast amount of music, much of which still has yet to be transcribed from Braille. He died in 1999.
Watch scenes from the Moondog Show:
Click here to learn about the handmade book version of the script, available for purchase!
If you are interested in presenting the Moondog Madrigal Puppet Show, commissioning a new An Exciting Event piece, or if you just want more information about the show, please contact me.