We met some homeschooling friends this morning at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center for their summer puppet series, which I've always heard is fantastic. It was our first-ever trip to a puppet show! This week they are showing Rumplestiltzkin, and I didn't realize they are doing multiple shows, so if you have a chance you should go! They characters are all marionettes, which for some reason makes me think of Mr. Rogers neighborhood, even though his were hand puppets. I think it's the wooden faces. The master puppeteer himself today, when introducing the play, actually acknowledged that when a puppet stares at you, "it can be creepy," so I don't feel so bad for being weird-ed out by puppets all these years. Gaines refuses to see them at all.
The performance by the Frisch Marionette Company was excellent, though slightly odd. Truth be told, the story of Rumplestiltzkin itself is a bit strange anyway. We read two different versions at bedtime, and one ended with the traditional splitting in two by saying "all Rumplestiltzkins are, of course, made out of gingerbread." (What the...?!) The play added some additional elements (like a queen and a prince), though I realized afterward it was due to the fact that there were only two puppeteers -- a man and a woman -- so of course they needed more female roles! In the original stories the king was a greedy, vile, evil man and if I was the miller's daughter I think I'd rather face death than marry him, much less have his baby. They soften it up a bit for the play, using the Queen as the fall guy who inflicts punishment and having the Miller's daughter marry her son, the Prince. They also add the Miller himself as a larger character in the narrative, using his foolish boasting as an object lesson.
In this puppeted version, they add a scene which might be troubling to some youngsters -- a visit by the Miller to "Goblin's Hollow" to find Rumplestiltzkin's name. I think the scenery and the musical interlude and dancing goblins confused the kids as to WHY they were in the play, more than the fright factor. Ethan kept asking about the "ghosts," though neither of my boys seemed to be scared by the marionette monsters, and there were even some humorous part where the monsters bump into each other or get spooked themselves that brought out some laughs. Jacob watched quietly and intently the whole show, while Ethan clapped along and laughed loudly at the funny parts. I was so glad to see him enjoying himself! Calvin was a literal handful, squirming and wiggling in my arms the entire show, but it was a darkened theater and thankfully we knew the people sitting directly behind us. I even changed his diaper on the floor in the middle of the play, but I'm not sure anyone would have known if I hadn't just told you that, since it was quite dark.
Overall, I would say we had a most excellent time! If you have children between the ages of 3-8 and are looking for something more affordable that the Center for Puppetry Arts, I would heartily recommend the Roswell summer series. Next week they are showing Hansel & Gretel, by the same troupe of puppeteers. Also, outside the cultural center, if you cross the bridge and walk over towards the gazebo, there is a shady area with excellent climbing trees. See?
|Jacob, age 5|