Shadowland: "It's unlike anything I've ever seen before."

World renowned dance and theater company Pilobolus brings its famed production Shadowland to Happy Valley next week (Tuesday, October 18). The show brilliantly combines dance and shadow theater, humor and drama, and everything in between for a first-of-its-kind experience. It tells the tale of a teenage girl, played by Heather Jeane Favretto, who falls asleep one night only to find herself on an Alice In Wonderland-type adventure through the dreamscape that is Shadowland.

We spoke with Heather Jeane Favretto to find out what makes Shadowland so great, and what she's most excited for in Happy Valley.


Your company performed here at Penn State in 2012. Were you a part of it then?

H: I wasn’t there for the last Penn State performance, unfortunately. I was a part of Pilobolus at that time, but I was touring in Europe. Shadowland has actually been touring the world since 2009, and this is the first time we’re bringing it to North America on this tour. So you’ll be one of the first places that we’re bringing this show that's been successful the world over.


So you’ve kind of been everywhere then. What other continents have you toured?

H: I’m super lucky in that way. We’ve done Australia, Asia, South America and Europe... And now North America, finally—my home!


Give us a general sense of what the audience can expect from the show.

H: The work that we’re doing with Shadowland is pretty unique. It defies boundaries of genre. So you’ll have moments that are very dance-y, then you’ll have moments that are strict theater. We have an incredible original score by composer David Poe; you get a little bit of everything in that score. And then there are elements of circus as well, and of course the shadow theater, which is maybe one of the oldest art forms that humans have been working with since we figured out how to tame fire. About 50% of the show happens behind various sized screens that we manipulate. But about 50% of it is traditional theater and dance and storytelling, and we kind of blend those two things seamlessly. So it’s a little bit of everything, and I think the audience can expect to be surprised and delighted.


It sounds like shadow theater is a very unique experience for the audience.

H: It’s unlike anything that I’ve seen or done before. What’s really great is, as a performer, I grew up loving cartoons. And my whole life I just wanted to be able to jump so high, and be so big, and do all of these superhuman things. So behind that screen, I can become 25 feet tall, or my head can become huge, or I can become very small. So it’s freeing in the way that I get to animate myself like a cartoon character.


Do you know anything about the Penn State areafor instance that we call it Happy Valley?

H: No, but I’m very excited to experience it for the first time! I’ll be a newcomer.


So tell us why people should come to see Shadowland.

H: Everywhere that we travel to, we make a little tailored surprise at the end of the show for that town or city. So we will definitely have a surprise in store for you guys, something specifically for you, when we come next week.


Is the show geared toward any certain ages?

H: No; this show has something for everyone. It has moments that are really funny, and kids respond really well to it. It’s definitely a show where any age audience is appropriate, adults and children alike.


Anything else you want to add before we go?

H: Just that I can’t wait to come and see Happy Valley!


Shadowland comes to Eisenhower Auditorium on Tuesday, October 18 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at


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