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Old Man and the River

Old Man and The River Image copy

November 2017

A grumpy old man lives in his little house in the woods by the river. Every day is the same and he likes it this way, until one day…a magical creature leaps into his world and everything changes! A beautiful story about friendship performed without words through sophisticated puppetry and a rich musical score.


Best for Children 3 & Up and K -2 classes




Show Dates

FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, St. Catherine’s | November 19, 20 | Tickets & Info
Crow’s Theatre, Scotiabank Studio Theatre | November 25, 26 | Tickets & Info 
Persephone Theatre, Saskatoon | December 4 -10 | Tickets & Info 
Additional Toronto Dates | To Be Announced 

The production has received unanimous praise from children, parents, grandparents, and teachers for its artistry and its story of newfound friendship. Old Man and the River is the perfect introduction to theatre for the very young and their grownups . This show features interactive pre-show and post-show audience engagement created especially for this age group.

This beautifully designed puppetry work performed without words to an enchanting musical score reveals a world where rivers sing, trees laugh, and curious dragonflies come to visit. With its themes of friendship, communication, play, adjusting to change, Old Man and the River is perfect for the youngest theatregoer.

Relaxed performances are specifically designed to welcome people who will benefit from a more relaxed performance environment, including people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, sensory and communication disorders, or a learning disability.

RP (Relaxed Performance) | Autism Friendly: The gentle, welcoming atmosphere,  an interactive pre-show and post-show audience engagement as well as an on-line Social Story makes Old Man and the River suitable for children of all needs and abilities.

Creative Credits

Created by Lynda Hill and Thomas Morgan Jones
Concept, Dramaturgy and Direction by Lynda Hill
Inspired by the story by Thomas Morgan Jones
Original Production Design by Kelly Wolf
Original Music by Nicky Phillips
Original Lighting Design by Jennifer Lennon
Puppetry by Mike Petersen and Eric Woolfe
Performed by Andrew Young, Ingrid Hansen, Kira Hall, and Mike Petersen
Stage Management by Sandi Becker
Video Trailer
Trailer features the 2014 production of Old Man and the River performed by Mike Petersen, Eric Woolfe, Kira Hall, and Seanna Kennedy.


For Schools

Recommended for Grades JK – 1, SK-2 French Immersion, ESL, ELL, ASD, DD, MID

School Performances 

Old Man and the River is a very accessible performance for young children. The story builds confidence in the young viewer because as it unfolds the repetition of events, actions and sounds builds a “knowing”… and thus a sense of competence and success with the medium.

The writers, directors and puppeteers have brought together their outstanding abilities to create a table puppet play that is skillfully designed for this age group of children who are beginning to use symbols in their own communication. The play brings the children into a world where actions and gestures tell a story.

As the three days of the story pass there is a repetition to allow the children to feel that they can anticipate what is going to happen but at the same time there is a change and it is ‘readable’ to the children because they  have learned the pattern of the narrative.

Themes for Old Man and the River

  • Friendship
  • The Natural World
  • Routines
  • Adjusting to change

Connections to the New 2016 Kindergarten Curriculum

The new 2016 Kindergarten Program is based around the 4 frames: Belonging and Contributing, Self-Regulation and Well-Being, Demonstrating Literacy and Mathematics Behaviours and Problem Solving and Innovating. The new curriculum also emphasizes an approach that integrates all 4 frames into classroom activities, inquiries and experiences. This performance, associated study guide materials and potential extension activities provides educators with an experience that ticks every box. For your convenience we have included below a link to a breakdown of overall and specific expectations met by bringing your Kindergarten class to Old Man and the River.

Curriculum Connections
Full Unit for Kindergarten by Stephanie Perry

“In the Kindergarten program, the arts provide a vehicle through which children can express their growing sense of self and their interpretations
of the world. The arts transcend any single subject or discipline.”
– FDK Program 2016

Well-timed, engaging, touching, very creative! My students responded with compassion, intrigue and interest. The content was the perfect extension to our study on feelings and belonging.” – Michael Demeter, TDSB educator

I sat with my class of deaf students and enjoyed watching the expressions on their faces as they watched the play. I loved how the production was so accessible for them and that they could experience so much with their eyes. This was a wonderful introduction to puppetry for all our students and how a ‘leaf’, ‘trees’, can also be puppets and be a critical part of the story telling.

We particularly liked the theme of making friends and this topic is particularly relevant to all children who struggle daily to belong and to connect with children on the playground.” – Educator, Calgary

The production was beautifully arranged and the children were highly engaged in the play.” – Educator, Calgary

 Production & Touring History

Old Man and the River premiered at the 2014 WeeFestival of Theatre and Culture for Early Years.

Burlington Performing Arts Centre
March 5, 2016

Axis Theatre, Vancouver
March 8 & 9, 2016

Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff, Alberta
March 11 & 12, 2016

Vertigo Theatre Y-Stage, Calgary
March 14 -20, 2016

2014 OAC logo RGB JPG

Western tour of Old Man and the River was made possible in part by a grant from the Ontario Arts Council’s National and International Touring program.