Whenever I tell people that I’m taking my 11-year-old son, Eli, to see a performance at Atlanta’s Center for Puppetry Arts, they usually lift an eyebrow and ask something along the lines of “Isn’t he a little old for that?”
I can see why they think so. I mean, the words “puppet show” conjure up memories of simple Punch-and-Judy puppets smacking each other behind a makeshift curtained stand; something entertaining to a 3-year-old — certainly NOT entertaining to a boy of 11.
Well, my theater-loving young actor Eli is not just any boy. And the kind of performances you find at this place are not just any puppet show. They are true entertainment!
I blogged about our first trip to the Center, about a year ago, to see Peter Pan. That’s when we were hooked. We went back in late November to see “Rudolph” and it was amazing, too.
Still, since seeing Rudolph, Eli had turned 11, ever more encroaching into that age zone where nothing I suggest is cool. So I wasn’t sure he’d say yes when I told him I’d been offered complimentary tickets again. But no — he was excited about going as I was. And once again, the performance did not disappoint.
The video clip above, while cute, really does no justice to the beauty of the set. We were a few rows back from the stage and it felt like being outdoors in the beautiful South. The highly-talented musical director performed as the narrator, sitting at a piano to the left of the stage. She also had a kick drum and other instruments to create various sound effects throughout the show. So it was like getting to watch a musical performance as well as the puppet show. The characters alternated appearing as their human and puppet selves, so we left feeling like we’d gotten to enjoy a play and a piano concert as well as fine puppetry. All of the actors had wonderful singing voices and real comedic talent.
It was fun for me to get reacquainted with the Brer Rabbit stories I remembered reading as a child. It was Eli’s first time hearing them, and their timeless appeal drew him in. (And left us pondering why it’s often the rabbit that’s the character who outsmarts everyone else? Was Brer Rabbit inspiration for the creators of Bugs Bunny?)
It was neat how they performed the story of the Tar Baby, though I think my favorite story was the one when Brer Turtle and Brer Rabbit schemed together to scare Brer Bear and Brer Fox with some simple tin plates and cups.
The show is running through May 26th, and is definitely worth a trip into the city. I give it two thumbs up — for ALL ages!