Monday, October 29, 2012

Behind the Scenes at PST: Raccoon Tales

Paul Vincent Davis, creator of Raccoon Tales
Raccoon Tales, Not Tails

Greetings, Readers!  In honor of Thanksgiving - which we all know is tied for "Best Holiday of the Year" with Christmas because you get to sample so many different kinds of pies (*insert happy "YAY!" here*) - we're bustin' out some of our favorite stories, each seasoned with a dash of food-themed fun.

We begin the yummy, finger-lickin' season with Raccoon Tales by Paul Vincent Davis, performed by PST artist-in-residence Brad Shur, which, we think, will inspire you to create a family folklore of your own - with the help of some tribal tricksters, of course.

About the Show...

What better way to bring in the holiday season with a show inspired by Native American tales of the Seneca Tribe?  That's right!  Thanksgiving's (basically) just around the corner and we're celebrating with Raccoon Tales.  Based on tales such as "How the Fox and the Raccoon Trick Each Other," "Why the Blue Jay is Blue and the Gray Wolf Isn’t," and "Why the Bear has a Stumpy Tail," Raccoon Tales is guaranteed to get you in a "thankful" mood.

Yes, see what happens when the animals from the forest play tricks on each other. Will they learn their lessons? Boy, we hope so because!

Its History...

Although our artist-in-residence Brad Shur is performing Raccoon Tales this week, the show was first created by Paul Vincent Davis in the late 60's - one of the six shows commissioned by the New York Town/Park Department.  Drawing inspiration from a humorous collection of Native American tales called Skunny Wundy, written by Arthur C. Parker, Paul prepared the show in a year, with puppet making help from friend, Karen Larson.
The "Inspiration"
Of course, the show due at PST this week is Paul's third revision.  That's right.  Paul loved Raccoon Tales so much - more than the other five shows he was commissioned to do - that he thought, "Let me make some changes.  So, how did the show change?  Well, it used to be that the puppets were glove puppets with Styrofoam heads, but then Paul changed them into glove puppets with paper mache heads - all handcrafted with faux fur.
Paul's Hand Puppets
You may be wondering: why glove puppets?  Well, in case you didn't know, they're Paul's signature - his "thing."  For the longest time, he's been fascinated by glove puppets because they're the hardest puppets to manipulate.  Seems strange, right, to enjoy something so challenging?  Wrong.  Paul loves a challenge - and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.  As a puppeteer, he believes in communicating through movement - to use a puppet's entire body to showcase what it feels about what it's saying - and it takes a lot of work to do so with glove puppets.  Of course, Paul's so invested in his work - studying his art - that he's, in a way, mastered it.
Paul, performing an earlier version of Raccoon Tales
Now, when Paul handed down Raccoon Tales to Brad, he was a little nervous, not because he thought Brad was a "bad" puppeteer but because he was asking him, this other person, to do the show in his voice.  One of the reasons why Paul was so invested in Raccoon Tales during its earlier run was because he wrote the script using his own sense of humor - his own voice.  Of course, after meeting Brad and seeing how much of a fast-thinker he is, Paul gave him his blessing.

And the Man Behind the Raccoon...

Paul is widely recognized as one of the foremost hand puppeteers in the country.  Not to mention, he's a great artist, writer, etc.

One of Paul's sketches
Paul joined the PST team in 1977 as its artist-in-residence and has been part of its history since then.  He has received many awards, including four "Citations of Excellence in the Art of Puppetry" from UNIMA-USA (the highest award given in puppetry) and the distinguished President's Award from Puppeteers of America.  In addition to performing, Paul has taught at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.  Pretty impressive, eh?  Well, he's also served as a faculty member and on the Board of Overseers for the Institute of Professional Puppetry Arts at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre.  With a resume like this, we're proud to call Paul "family!"

Paul, surrounded by clowns (literally)
Oh, and be sure to keep your eyes open!  Paul's been writing a book - working title Glove Puppets: Fantasy and Realism Hand in Hand.  "It's almost done," he says.  There was a minor setback when his computer lost the pages, but our wonderful artist-in-residence Brad Shur saved every file.  The finished work is being proofread, so we hope to see it on shelves soon!

And Finally...

Be sure to come on down to PST this week to see Raccoon Tales.  Tickets can be purchases online HERE.

Till next time!  Yours truly, Esra Erol - marketing intern at PST.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Food and Folktales at PST!

PST Feast of Food and Folktales 2012!
November 1 - December 2
View Show Calendar

With our Halloween Extravaganza coming to an end, we're getting ready for Thanksgiving - a special time that brings families together to share stories while enjoying yummy food!  Take a seat at our table as we present some of our favorite stories, each seasoned with a dash of food-themed fun!


Raccoon Tales by Paul Vincent Davis, performed by Brad Shur, PST Artist-in-Residence
Thursday Nov 1 | 10:30 AM
Friday Nov 2 | 10:30 AM & 3 PM
Saturday and Sunday Nov 3 & 4 | 1 PM & 3 PM


About the Show: The animals in the forest are always getting into trouble, playing tricks on each other. Will they learn their lessons? Three humorous tales inspired by the Native American tales of the Seneca tribe: "How the Fox and the Raccoon Trick Each Other," "Why the Blue Jay is Blue and the Gray Wolf Isn’t," and "Why the Bear has a Stumpy Tail." Recommended ages 4 & up. Hand puppets. Tickets: $12/general admission, $8/PST members.

About the Artist: Brad Shur, PST Artist-in-Residence, has been professionally involved in puppetry for over 10 years.  He first began as a performer with the Providence puppet and mask company Big Nazo while he was a student at the Rhode Island School of Design and has toured nationally with Wood & Strings Theatre, a marionette company out of Tennessee.  As a teaching artist, he teaches workshops and classes for students of all ages. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Behind the Scenes at PST: The Witch Who Wasn't

The Witch Who Wasn't...Scary?

Guess who's flyin' over to PST for Halloween weekend?  A witch!  But don't worry.  She's just an itty-bitty witch...unlike some (*ahem* Wicked Witch of the West).  Yes, that's right.  If you're not interested in a gory Halloween and you just want to have some fun, then we suggest you come on down to PST and see The Witch Who Wasn't.

A History Of Witches...

We all know - witches are no strangers to Massachusetts.  Anyone remember the Salem Witch Trials?  It's not exactly something you could ever forget - one of the most notorious cases of mass hysteria in human history.  You know, because so many innocent people were executed at the hands of paranoid ministers, governors, and whatnot.

A courtroom, during the Salem Witch Trials

The question is: why?  Why did so many people feel the need to rid of these so-called "witches?"  It could be because, since who knows how long, witches have been viewed as evil creatures - evil creatures who perform black magic.

Wicked Witch of the West (above), Witches of Macbeth (bottom)

Of course, not all witches are evil - at least, they don't have to be.

Hermione Granger (above), Samantha Stephens (bottom)

What we learn from The Witch Who Wasn't is this: there is a difference between an evil witch and a witch who just wants to scare in the spirit of Halloween.

About The Show...

The Witch Who Wasn't is a delightful tale about a little witch who can't do anything - emphasis on anything - scary.  And because of this, she dreads attending her first Halloween Witches Convention.  Fortunately, she's not alone on this journey.  Her short story is followed by visits from a happy juggling pumpkin, a roller-skating demon, and a compliment of scarecrows, witches, ghosts, and silly monsters.

...And The Man Behind The Witch

Wayne Martin and The Witch Who Wasn't
Believe it or not - Wayne Martin founded his company, The Wayne Martin Puppets, when he was just eight years old!  Pretty impressive, huh?  I think so!  Imagine what he's accomplished since then.

Over the course of forty-plus years, Wayne's developed a hefty credits list, which includes guest appearances with Symphony Orchestras and work as principal manipulator for industry greats such as the Heiken Puppets, Sid and Marty Krofft Productions, and Jim Henson's Muppets (just to name a few).

And it doesn't end there.  Wayne has also appeared in many award-winning television programs and commercials.  These include critically acclaimed educational and training films and his very own television series and specials that have earned him two Emmy nominations.  Yes, I said it - Emmy nominations.

Of course, Wayne's first love remains live performance.  He has toured Canada, Europe, and Autralia - as well as presenting his one-man variety revue hundreds of times each year across the United States.

Some of Wayne's Puppets
The Witch Who Wasn't is a childhood favorite of his, written by Jane Yolen, that his mother had read to him when it was first published in the early sixties.  He decided to produce his version of the story for a "Breakfast With The Witch" promotion with McAlpin's Department Stores in 1978.  He worked with a writer at the time, one who would take his ideas and story suggestions and write the scripts for him.  They would then go into a studio and record all of the voices and music, which he would play back during live performances.

When The Puppet Showplace approached him to present a show during the month of October, Wayne immediately thought of The Witch Who Wasn't. It runs just over 12 minutes and will be followed "Halloween Spooks," his thirty-plus minute Halloween trick-marionette variety revue. 

Yes, come on down to PST and celebrate with us as we begin our Halloween Extravaganza with The Witch Who Wasn't.  If you haven't done so already, tickets can be purchases HERE.Till next time!  Yours truly, Esra Erol - marketing intern at PST.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Behind the Scenes at PST: Dr. Doohickey's Monster Machine

Reginald the Rabbit, the monster!
Doohickey M.D.?

Dr. Doohickey may not have a degree from the Yale School of Medicine, but that's ok.  You're not in need of any health-related advice.  You're in need of a good show - nay, a great show!  Well, guess what?  Dr. Doohickey's Monster Machine is just that - a great show.

About the Show...

Halloween's just around the corner and you're all probably wondering: what makes Dr. Doohickey's Monster Machine so spook-tacular?  Well, for one thing, the words "Doctor" and "Monster" are in the same title. Take a look at Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Both have taught us that when doctors and monsters mix, they result in Halloween-worthy stories.
Reginald and Friends

Of course, Dr. Doohickey's Monster Machine is not grotesquely scary like most of today's scary stories, movies, etc.  It's Halloween fun that everybody can enjoy, including the wee little children.

With the help of his assistant, Reginald the Rabbit, Dr. Doohickey embarks on a quest.  Using music, machines, and a little bit of magic, he sets out to prove that the world would be a much more exciting place if people were a little bit more like monsters.  Actually, not like monsters.  Dr. Doohickey tries to turn people into monsters, which makes sense, right?  What else is one supposed to do with a monster machine?

Now, Dr. Doohickey's Monster Machine is very different from most puppet shows that pass through PST.  We're so used to seing so many small hand puppets that we forget they can be big.  Take Reginald the Rabbit, for example.  He's pretty big - almost the size of a real-life person.  And his mouth moves, too!  So, it's almost like he is a real person, even though he's kind of a "thing."  

Also, he's not the only puppet - or should I say, "person" - on stage.  Brad actually performs as Dr. Doohickey.  And there are, of course, a few shadow puppets here and there!  What a perfect Halloween-related factor, right?  Shadow puppets.  What could be more "Halloween-y?" 

Doctors, Monsters, and everything in between - how did Brad Shur come up with such an amazing show?  Hmm...perhaps it's because he's super talented.  Yeah, I think it's that.

...And the Man Behind Dr. Doohickey

I don't know if you knew this, but Brad Shur is the Artist-in-Residence here at PST.  Since he first started in 2009, Brad has performed a variety of shows on our stage, including three of Paul Vincent Davis' original shows (The Singing Turtle, Raccoon Tales, Clown Circus) and some of his own, like Dr. Doohickey's Monster Machine, The Carrot Salesman and Magic Soup & Other Stories.
Brad in The Carrot Salesman
Brad also brings the magic of puppetry to schools, libraries, and other venues.  Yes, that's right.  He's a touring performer as well as an in-house performer.  Also, people find themselves so intrigued by how Brad constructs his shows, from script to stage, they often enroll in some of the teaching classes he offers here at PST.  Last summer, for example, Brad offered a workshop called "Junk Puppets," in which he taught puppet enthusiasts how to make puppets from recycled materials.
Brad, teaching "Junk Puppets"
As for the year before, Brad performed The Carrot Salesman at the Huntington Arcade, presented by The Kid's Stage in Barnes & Noble Booksellers.  This event - "Puppets Take Prudential" - occurred at the Prudential Center, where the Boston skyline was lit up with PST's signature orange color in honor of the theatre's month-long "31 Nights of Light," which was everyone's way of celebrating local non-profit organizations.
Brad, doing "Puppets Take Prudential"
Of course, what about before and outside PST?  In 2003, Brad graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Film, Animation, and Video.  Pretty impressive, right?  Well, it doesn't end there.  After, he was a workshop leader for Wood and Strings Theatre, where he performed in full-stage, nationally touring shows.  Also, he built the interactive show Escape From the Zoo.  
Brad, making puppets for Escape From the Zoo
Then, he was an art teacher at the Providence After School Alliance, teaching grades five through seven.  His students created masks, comics, a collaborative video game, and a short film - which you can see HERE.

In between all this, he founded Little Bee Puppets, where he created and performed shows for children and adults alike throughout Nashville, TN and Providence, RI.

And if all of this isn't enough to "wow" you - Brad also designed, built, and performed body puppets for an American Idol commercial, headed by Ford.  Check it out:

Yes, it's no secret: Dr. Doohickey's Monster Machine is guaranteed to bring a smile to audiences of all ages with many thanks to our super talented Artist-In-Residence, Brad Shur.  Be sure to come on down to PST and join us as we launch our two week-long "Halloween Extravaganza" this Friday, October 19th. 

In case you haven't done so already, tickets for Dr. Doohickey's Monster Machine can be purchased online (HERE).

Till next time!  Yours truly, Esra Erol - marketing intern at PST.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Silly Ghosts and Ghouls come to PST!

PST Halloween event, 2011 "Spooky Story Station"
October 19-28
View Show Calendar

For two weeks this October, Puppet Showplace Theatre will be taken over by sweet and silly spooks. The “Halloween Extravaganza” will take place on October 19 - 28, featuring two different Halloween themed puppet shows, and an off-site appearance at the Brookline Lincoln School’s annual “Pumpkinfest.” 
Audience members are welcome to attend performances in costume! 


Dr. Doohickey’s Monster Machine by Brad Shur, PST Artist in Residence
Friday October 19 | 10:30am Saturday and Sunday October 20 & 21 | 1pm & 3pm 

Dr. Doohickey thinks that the world would be much more exciting if people were a little more like
monsters, don’t you? Join the doctor and his assistant Reginald the Rabbit as they use music, machines and a little magic to bring funny monsters to life. Moving-mouth and shadow puppets. Recommended for ages 4 & up. Tickets: $12/general admission, $8/PST members. 

About the artist: Brad Shur, PST Artist in Residence has been professionally involved in puppetry for over 10 years. He first began as a performer with the Providence puppet and mask company Big Nazo while a student at the Rhode Island School of Design and has toured nationally with Wood & Strings Theatre, a marionette company out of Tennessee. As a teaching artist, he teaches workshops and classes for students of all ages.

The Witch Who Wasn’t by Wayne Martin Puppets
Friday October 26 | 10:30am Saturday and Sunday October 27 & 28 | 1pm & 3pm 

“The Witch who Wasn’t” is a delightful tale about a little witch who can’t do anything the least bit scary and who dreads attending her first Halloween witches convention. Her short story is followed by visits from a happy juggling pumpkin, a roller-skating demon, and a compliment of scarecrows, witches, ghosts and silly monsters all performing unique tricks for your treat in this hilarious Halloween-themed variety revue. Hand puppets, rod puppets and marionettes. Recommended for ages 4 & up. Tickets: $12/general admission, $8/PST members.

About the artist: Wayne Martin has been featured in numerous award winning television programs and commercials. These include critically acclaimed educational and training films and his very own television series and specials that have earned him two Emmy Award nominations. At the top of his profession for nearly forty years, Wayne’s credits include guest appearances with Symphony Orchestras and work as principal manipulator for industry greats, the Heiken Puppets, Sid and Marty Krofft Productions and Jim Henson’s Muppets, among others. Having designed and built over two thousand puppets to date, Martin’s act has appeared with such established artists as Bob Hope, Dolly Parton, The 5th Dimension and The Temptations.


Pumpkinfest @ Lincoln School
Sunday October 21, 12-4pm 

Bella Monster sure could use YOUR help
to get into the Halloween Spirit!

Join Puppet Showplace Theatre artists at Brookline’s Lincoln School for an afternoon of FREE monster-related puppet activities and crafts. Learn about mouth puppetry, make your own monster puppet, and meet some of our favorite furry monsters including Bella, PST’s “Monster in Residence.”  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Behind the Scenes at PST: Senseless!

A 2011 performance of Senseless!
Playing With The Senses in Senseless!

You know how we puppet-loving PST employees love to bring joy to children?  Yeah, well, we like doing that for adults too, which is why we thought we'd add Senseless! to our fall lineup.  Before you see the show, take a moment to read about it.

The Show...

Let's begin with the story.  Senseless! is a send-up of classic old time radio melodramas.  Using puppets and live Foley sound effects, the performers create a Film Noir-like world, in which Brick Foley: Blind Detective must stop a series of murders at the Helen Keller School of Music and win the heart of the woman he lost years before.  Sounds great in print, I know, but check out a clip from their premiere below:

Take a moment to let that soak in.  Did you do it?  Do you agree that it's awesome - like nothing you've ever seen before?  Ok, good.  Let's continue.  

Senseless! premiered as part of the Puppet Lab series at the renowned St. Ann’s Warehouse in New York City, where it received nothing but praise, of course.  Since then, it has been performed at the Voice 4 Vision Puppet Festival and the New Orleans Fringe Festival, where the NOLA Defender had this to say about it: "a nearly flawless performance" - which we agree to. 

Yes!  Inspired by the shows of the Golden Age of radio and by live performances of NPR's Prairie Home Companion, Senseless! brings the exciting and chaotic sound effects props table to life with object-theatre puppetry.

And The Performer(s)... 

You know what they say: "story and character are key."  Senseless! has both for sure.  You've read about (even seen) some of the story.  Now let the colorful characters (a.k.a. the performers behind 'em) do some of their magic.

Let's begin with Elizabeth Hara, the mastermind behind Senseless!.  With a resume that highlights past work like "puppet builder for the Jim Henson Company, Sesame Street, and Avenue Q," you know she's guaranteed to bring the mother of all shows to the PST stage.

And then there's her team, which features the performing talents of Brendan Yi-Fu Tay (The Puppet Kitchen,) Sarah Lafferty (Castleton Opera Festival,) Katrina Denney (Fundamental Theatre Group), Emmy Award-winner Michael Schupbach (Sesame Street, Johnny and the Sprites) Eric Wright (The Puppet Kitchen, The Metropolitan Opera, The Public Theatre) and David Brown (Poor But Sexy).

Just a small number of the Senseless! Performers
Now, just a reminder: Someone is killing the students at the Helen Keller School of Music - and the poor kids never saw it coming. Only Brick Foley: Blind Detective can save the school and the woman he loves from the senseless murders.

If you want in on this adventure, then you better come on down to PST this weekend because the more the merrier.  Plus, you don't want to let Brick Foley go about this all by his lonesome self, do you?  I didn't think so.  In case you haven't done so already, you can buy your tickets HERE, as well as the PST Box Office.

Till next time!  Yours truly, Esra Erol - marketing intern at PST.

Behind the Scenes at PST: A Woodland Cinderella

It's Not Just Cinderella, It's A Woodland Cinderella
Deborah and Cinderella

Hellooo, Readers!  This week at PST, we conclude the 2012 Fall Fairytale Festival with A Woodland Cinderella, which, we promise, is a fitting send-off for the first half of our magical fall season.

Deborah Costine: Puppeteer!

All right, folks.  Let's meet the woman responsible for A Woodland Cinderella.  That's right.  I'm talkin' bout Deborah Costine!

Deborah's first puppet
Deborah grew up in a region of Lancaster, NH known as "The Great North Woods."  Unfortunately back then, there were no visiting assembly programs, so the only puppet Deborah knew was "Bunny Rabbit" on Captain Kangaroo.  Of course, that all changed when she made a puppet of her own, a papier mache clown that sits in her studio to this day.  Does it surprise you that such a creative child grew up to be a master puppeteer?  Right.  I didn't think so.  And you know what?  The creativity didn't end there.

Since 1974, Deborah has been one-half of the well-known Gerwick Puppets, touring throughout New England at schools, libraries, museums, and events such as First Night Boston.  She writes the scripts with her partner-in-crime, Lenny Gerwick, and makes all the puppets - over two hundred to this day!
Deborah, with Lenny Gerwick
Yes, Deborah's quite the busy bee.  You don't believe me?  She has presented over 5,000 performances to over a million children.  Productions include: Aladdin and the Magic LampPilgrim Adventure in AmericaInside the Haunted House, and Midwinter Magic - just to name a few.  And in addition to her work with Gerwick Puppets, Deborah has designed, constructed, and performed solo shows such as the upcoming Woodland CinderellaThe Three Pigs and Other Tales, and The Twig Family in the Oak Tree.

And then, there's her teaching job.  Deborah has taught puppetry classes at Plymouth State University, Worcester State College, and Northeastern University.  It's almost like she's running on a never-ending battery.  She's always up and running, trying to spread the joys of puppetry, not just to students but to everyone around her, which is great news for us all because she is just delightful!
Deborah Costine: Puppeteer!

A Woodland Cinderella vs. Every Other Cinderella

Now, some of you may be wondering: what makes A Woodland Cinderella different from, let's say, Disney's Cinderella?  Well, I'll tell ya.

In 1950, Disney released their version of Cinderella, one of their best - not to mention one of the greatest adaptations of all time.  Though, back then, it was considered a major gamble.  The story goes: if Cinderella had failed at the box office, then Disney Studios would have shut down forever.  Luckily for them, it was a huge hit, one of their first since Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, which they released in 1937.  So imagine that - it took Disney Studios thirteen years to get back on top.  Hard to imagine, right?  Considering they're very much on top of their game today.
Disney's Cinderella (1950)
Anyway, you know the story: Cinderella is the much-loved daughter of a widowed aristocrat.  Feeling that his daughter needs a mother's care, he marries Lady Tremaine, a proud woman with two daughters from her first marriage, Drizella and Anastasia, both plain and socially awkward and bitterly envious of the beautiful and charming Cinderella.  After Cinderella's father dies, Lady Tremaine takes over the estate and she and her daughters (even their cat, Lucifer) mistreat her out of jealousy.  Regardless, Cinderella grows up to be a kind woman and she gets the happily-ever-after-ending.  You know, the one with a gorgeous pair of shoes and that sweet, sweet Prince Charming.
Deborah Costine's A Woodland Cinderella
Yes, it can't be denied: Disney's Cinderella is a lovely adaptation, but I'm more interested in Deborah Costine's version, A Woodland Cinderella.  Why?  Because it's a one-woman show!  Every detail that went into making this show - the script, the puppets, the set - it's all Deborah's doing.  She put a lot of thought into.  And it's not just the beautiful set design or the elaborate puppetry that make A Woodland Cinderella so different (in fact, better) than most versions of Cinderella.  It's the theme: that it's not how beautiful you are on the outside or how much stuff you have that makes you a beautiful person.  It's "the goodness in your eyes."

You know it would be a shame to waste a wonderful opportunity like this - to see Deborah, whose fairytale puppets will be sure to please you.  Take my word for it: A Woodland Cinderella is funny, touching, and everything in between.  Be sure to come on down to PST to see a performance, starting October 12 (BUY TICKETS).  And for more information on Deborah and her amazing puppetry, please go to her website:

Till next time!  Your's truly, Esra Erol - marketing intern at PST.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Woodland Cinderella Comes to PST!


The Second Annual FALL FAIRYTALE FESTIVAL concludes with... 

A Woodland Cinderella
by Deborah Costine, Pupeteer!

Fri Oct 12 | 10:30 AM 
Sat Oct 13 | 1 PM & 3 PM
Sun Oct 14 | 1 PM & 3 PM

This past month, we've met many colorful characters, including: a fairytale investigator, giants living on top of a beanstalk, a big, bad wolf hungry for three little pigs, princes (or frogs that became princes) and princesses, an emperor, a little girl (and we mean that literally), and an ugly duckling.

This week, we invite you to the conclusion of the Second Annual Fall Fairytale festival with Cinderella: A Woodland Fairy Princess - before we officially get into the spirit of Halloween with our "Halloween Extravaganza," beginning October 19th through October 28th.

About the ShowIn this original, UNIMA award-winning version of Cinderella, the King of all Woodland Fairies wants his son to marry a fairy princess, but he knows they are very hard to find, so he hosts a great ball and commands all the young fairy maidens to attend - with hopes that the missing Fern Fairy Princess will come. The question is: will she?
Hand puppets, recommended for ages 3 & up

About the Performer: When Deborah was a mere 10-years-old, she made her first puppet. She had no idea how to go about it, but she made a papier mache puppet, which sits in her puppet studio to this day!  Deborah also designs and performs shows for young audiences and was recently awarded a UNIMA "Citation of Excellence" for her show Cinderella: A Woodland Fairy Princess in 2009. The UNIMA "Citation of Excellence" is the highest honor in American puppetry.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Behind the Scenes at PST: The Magic of Hans Christian Andersen

Applause Unlimited: Give 'Em a Round of Applause

Chris, in The Tales of Beatrix Potter
Greetings, Readers!  Back for another "behind-the-scenes" adventure?  Good!  Because this week at PST, we welcome Applause Unlimited with open arms as they perform not one but three classic Hans Christian Andersen tales: The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelisa, and The Emperor's New Clothes.  Yes, it's true what they say - three's a magical number.  Hope you Hans and Honeys are ready for some kickin' storytellin' because that's what you're going to get with Applause Unlimited's show!

The Company...

You'd think after receiving not one but two "Citations of Excellence" from the Union Internionale de la Marionette, these guys would take a break.  Luckily, for us puppet enthusiasts at PST and audiences alike, they don't.

In addition to performing in schools, museums, theaters, and festivals in and around their hometown, Richmond, VA, Applause Unlimited has toured up and down the entire east coast, making a few stops here and there, including: The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, GA, The Puppet Co. Playhouse in Glen Echo, MD, The National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD, The Wetlands Institute in Cape May, NJ, and The Smithsonian Discovery Theatre in Washington D.C.

...And The Shows

Pretty impressive, right?  Well, that's because Applause Unlimited offers a wide range of performances featuring fresh interpretations of classic tales like The Velveteen RabbitPeter and the Wolf, Puss in Boots, and The Tales of Beatrix Potter (due at PST this December).  Using masks, music, and comedy, they entertain audiences as much as they educate 'em.  So, in other words, they put the "fun" in "learning can be fun."

The Velveteen Rabbit (left) and Peter and the Wolf (right)

Puss in Boots (left) and The Tales of Beatrix Potter (right)

Let's Meet the Performer

Now, you may be asking - who's the man behind the puppets?  The answer is: Christopher Hudert, a versatile artist whose many skills include script writing, sculpting, set and puppet construction, puppetry, clowning, stilt walking, and juggling.

Chris, between Siegfried & Roy - 1991
Christopher began his career in theatre at an early age, performing with The Children's Theater of Children and Puppetfest Productions.  Later, he put his Theatre Studies on hold to attend Ringling Bros. Clown College.  He was such a good student, they offered him a chance to join the Circus, which he, of course, accepted (who wouldn't?!).  Much thanks to his clown contract, Christopher went on tours across the United States and Japan, which goes to show - if you have dreams of traveling the world, you should pack your bags and go to Clown College.

Chris (right), in "A Duck Walks into a Bar" - Puppetry Slam
at the Puppet Co. Playhouse in Glen Echo Park 
To this day, Christopher - now a veteran of Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus - has performed for millions of people and has appeared in TV shows, commercials, magazines, and newspapers in both the United States and Japan.  He was Boss Clown for Ringling Bros. before leaving to join Master Puppeteer Terry Snyder in the creation of Applause Unlimited.  He is also the Stage Consultant and the Youth Services Coordinator for Puppeteers of America and serves on the Board of The National Puppetry Guild.

Oh, and if you're ever in need of a Clown College instructor, Christopher's doing that, too!

So, need to laugh a little?  Well then, be sure to come one down to PST to see Applause Unlimited perform three of Hans Christian Andersen's beloved tales in The Magic of Hans Christian Andersen, beginning Friday October 5th and running until Monday October 8th (BUY TICKETS).

'Til next time!  Yours truly, Esra Erol - marketing intern at PST.