Photo above is from my latest project which bowed yesterday. I was asked by my friends at Just Off Broadway, Inc. to include a short puppet piece for their Dinner with Santa event. My good friend and fellow puppeteer Rich Hotaling suggested using the Winter's Children poem for a performance by the puppets. My friendly monster Russell, in the foreground, played the part of Wind. With a faux branch of brown leaves, he swayed the branch back and forth as he delivered his poetry with command and character. Drew and Sheila, the humanoid puppets, stepped into the roles of Jack Frost and Ice respectively. Both are from my show Helping Drew. Costumes were made by my very talented friend Hannah Butler. I fashioned pointy ears for Drew made to slip on his original ears. Ice crown and snow crown were made by myself. The friendly white monster Snow was specially built by myself for this production.
We had four days to record and rehearse but, all told, only about a ten minute piece. New dialogue was written in between the verses of the poem for banter between the characters. The 'Old Man Winter' part of the poem was replaced by Mother Nature who was played by a live human actor, Cat Capolupo. Cat is one of those actors who understands immediately the direction given to her and flawlessly creates magic with her performance. Her interaction with the puppets was reminiscent of The Magic Garden and early Sesame Street. She inspires me to want to create more puppet/human interactive pieces.
At the conclusion of Winter's Children, Mother Nature sang a beautiful rendition of Winter Wonderland, naturally, joined by the puppets as they swayed and broke out in various ad-libs. As the evening wound up, puppeteers came out front to join the elves and our young guests in a Christmas carol sing-along. Naturally, we stuck around for pictures with our guests and a couple kids had hugs for the puppets as well. It's safe to say, the puppets were the hit of the evening. I'm already looking forward to creating a yearly tradition with our friends at Just Off Broadway, Inc. and thinking up new, creative ideas for each show.
Puppeteers David Manley as Jack Frost, John Marro as Wind and Rich Hotaling as Snow