The “circus” is in town — but this one stars puppets. The Puppet Co. Theatre is celebrating its 30th year and Circus is the perfect showcase for master puppeteer Christopher Piper to display his considerable talent and creativity with an array of incredible feats of puppetry.
Circus opens with Piper taking the stage dressed in full Ringmaster attire accompanied by a lovely assistant. The first act features a seal that Piper controls with such precision that the puppet really seems to come to life. Several children in the audience were convinced that they were watching a live seal performance rather than a puppet. Another highlight of the show is a bear that performs a variety of tricks with a wand that he balances and throws in the air in ways few puppets can. My son’s favorite act was a wolf that Piper has to cajole into performing. Another crowd favorite was an unusual act involving Indiana Smith demonstrating feats of bravery with his ability to pop balloons with his whip and battle a lion. Of course, Circus also features clowns that clown around.
Circus is different than most Puppet. Co. Theater shows in that it does not follow a set story. Instead, patrons are treated to a non-stop variety of tricks that elicited more ohhs, ahhs, and wows than I have ever heard at a live performance. After each act my son asked me if there would be another and was continually delighted with the entertainment on stage. When the show did come to an end he was visibly disappointed as were other children who didn’t want the “circus” to end.
If you go, The Puppet Co. Playhouse is located in Glen Echo Park. Circus plays on Thursdays and Fridays at 10:00am and 11:30am and Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30am and 1:00pm. The show runs approximately 40 minutes, making it manageable for families that include young children. Tickets are $10.00 for everyone two and up. There are discounts for group sales and a trip to the Puppet Co. makes a great outing for a playgroup or a birthday party. Tickets can be purchased by online with no ticketing fees, by calling (301) 634-5380, or at the box office. For procrastinators, be aware that online ticket sales end one hour and fifteen minutes before show time.
There is plenty of free parking at Glen Echo, but be sure to allot five to ten minutes to walk from the parking lot to the theatre. The path from the parking lot to the theater is completely flat and stroller-friendly. There is a designated place to leave strollers just outside the theatre door. Doors open fifteen minutes before the show begins. Seating is general admission with seating for children available on the floor and some benches available for adults in the back and along the perimeter where children are allowed to sit on grown-ups laps. There is limited space available for caregivers to sit with children on the floor near the front so if you want to sit with your child you should plan on arriving early to be among the first admitted to the theatre. Plenty of space for caregivers to sit with children is available in the back.
There are two live feed monitors in the lobby so you will not miss any of the show if you need to step out with your child for a moment. The Ringmaster and a clown greet patrons as they exit the theatre and are available for photos.
If you see Circus on a nice day be sure to take advantage of Glen Echo’s playground and carousel before or after the show. There is an ASL-interpreted show on August 11th. Circus is recommended for ages Pre-K and up, although my three year old enjoyed it just as much as my kindergartener. Be sure to catch Circus before it leaves town on September 1, 2013.
Photo courtesy of Jamie Davis Smith.