Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The 3 Puppeteers

It turns out that Jack, one of the 3 puppeteers from Pinocchio's Puppet Theater in the Altamonte Mall, had written a comment on my blog that he had been at a number of events that I had sketched, but he was always on the opposite side of the room and so he wasn't in any of those sketches. In the first sketch of the puppeteers I didn't sketch Jack because he was the furthers away and he might have been out of view because he was working the curtains or getting a puppet. April told me about how disappointed Jack would be so I had to do another sketch to be sure I caught Jack. He is usually on the platform at stage left so I walked backstage to draw on that side.
Jack is the puppeteer who worked Frosty. Frosty has the amazing ability to separate all his body parts during his dance number. In the sketch Frosty is off in the wings at stage left watching the dancing reindeer's who do a lively can can number.
The final show is a bit over an hour long but with fits and starts the rehearsal was well over 4 hours. Much of this is because the lighting had to be figured out for each number. Endurance, patience and a playful spirit seem to be the attributes needed to be a good puppeteer. The cast affectionately referred to April as stumpy which implies that long arms are also a plus. She got to perform as the acrobatic monkey which is one of the more challenging and fun puppets to work. She can swing through the air with the greatest of ease and she is able to flip up and sit on the cross bar.
Space backstage is very cramped. Sometimes the puppeteers have to crawl under the platforms in order to untangle puppets or work the back stage curtains. It is easy for a puppeteer to bump their head on all the exposed beams. April who works the MC of the show had him stand and look up at the huge puppeteers looming above him. he made a comment as if this were the first time he had realized that they were there. It was quite funny.
The true magic comes from hearing the reactions from the children. The puppeteers can hear the audience response and they feed off of that energy. April was saying that the last audience was screaming for more of the dancing panda. She also wrote me that in a recent performance of Holly's Follies the arms fell off of several characters. The children screams not in horror but delight.
One of the final acts was set to the music of "Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year". I had heard this music over and over again at the Trees rehearsals. It seems the most wonderful time of the year is fast approaching. Brace yourself. Santa's Holly Follies runs through November 29th check the website for show times.


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