I have to confess I am mad about puppets. I remember making papier mache puppets at our next door neighbor's house in the seventies. We'd use pieces of old knitting wool for the hair, fabric cut offs for the clothes and our imagination for the face.
Later, I was enthralled by the puppet show created by the Von Trapp family in The Sound of Music, and dreamt I was part of a big family with our own marionettes, painting extravagant backdrops and delighting friends and family with a show in a grand and spacious ballroom!
The local Punch and Judy show scared me but also mesmerized me, as I watched simple puppets literally bash out very adult concepts.
And of course, my favorite puppet growing up was Pinocchio.
As I got older, I yearned to collect those wonderfully elaborate Venetian masks and puppets.
And still the love of puppets is with me. As it is with other people so it seems, because there is a wonderful production of Puss in Boots on in New York this week. And it's for children and adults alike.
The very clever director Moises Kaufman (The Laramie Project, Gross Indecency: 33 Variations) and his Tectonic Theatre Project have teamed up with the Gotham Chamber Opera and London's Blind Summit Theatre who specialize in creating puppetry, to present a wonderful opera/puppet pageantry of the famous fairytale Puss in Boots. The opera part is by Catalan composer Xavier Montsalvatge, with singers telling the story beside the life size puppets, or becoming part of the puppets in the case of the fat little king and his merry men. The puppets are remarkable as are the people who make them move. Somehow they inject personality into an inanimate object so no longer are you watching a puppet, but a cunning Puss or a raging ogre.
It is a heartwarming 70 minutes that should not be missed if you are here. Alternatively, Blind Summit have another puppet opera on in London in November. Go on. Delight your inner child.
And to relive a magical puppet moment from our childhood, enjoy the Goatherd clip from The Sound of Music.
images: (1) new victory, (2) more things, (3) catherine wheale, (4) askville amazon, (5) photopedia, (6) puppet stuff blog, (7-11) gotham chamber orchestra