Peter Pan at the Center for Puppetry Arts

I’d like to get into the habit of writing more reviews of local attractions, and our recent visit to Atlanta’s Center for Puppetry Arts is a great one to start with!

We went last Thursday to enjoy free tickets to a media showing of “Peter Pan.” I took Eli, my 10-year-old. I was a little concerned that he might be too old for a puppet show, but he’s interested in art and theater, so I thought it would be educational for him, regardless. (I was basing this fear on remembering the somewhat boring field trips of my youth to this place, where we saw basic marionette puppets performing with minimal props and scenery.)

All I can say is this: Puppetry has come a LONG way, baby!

We had excellent seats, just three rows back from the stage. I don’t know the technical terminology for what we saw, but the puppets performed behind a sheer screen that enabled the producers to use all sorts of special lighting effects. One favorite scene was when Peter Pan, Wendy, John and Michael were flying over London — they projected animation onto the front of the screen and it was something like “simulator-ride-meets-puppet-show.” We felt like we were zooming over the city with the characters.

Eli’s two favorite parts centered around Tinkerbell drinking poison to save Peter Pan’s life. I won’t share the details here because that would spoil it for you if you go. But it was very entertaining!

The backgrounds and props were beautifully rendered and changed with each scene of the story. And at the end, the lights were turned on behind the screen and the puppeteers removed their black hoods. It was so neat to see their faces and learn about their art as they showed us a bit of the technical side of what we’d just seen.

After the show, we spent another enjoyable hour touring the interactive museum, which includes an entire room dedicated to the genius that was Jim Henson. As a life-long fan of Sesame Street and the Muppets, I was as excited as Eli at seeing a real-life Ernie and Big Bird, and looking at replicas of Henson’s original designs for his famous puppets.

Believe it or not, I wasn’t asked to write a review as a condition for getting the free media tickets. I just had so much fun that I wanted to share it with others!  The Center for Puppetry Arts is truly one of Atlanta’s hidden gems — Eli and I are already looking forward to seeing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” this December…and we might just bring the whole family next time!