If you have yet to visit The Puppet Co., nestled inside the beautiful Glen Echo Park, it is a wonderful theater dedicated to preserving and exhibiting the art of puppetry. My family and I had the opportunity to attend The Puppet Co’s latest production, Hansel and Gretel.
Quaint from the moment you enter, every seat is a house seat inside the theater. Kids are encouraged to enjoy the show from the floor, only a feet feet away from the stage, while parents can sit along the side on comfortable couch seating.
The show opens with Christopher Piper, the Artistic Director for the theater – as well and the only puppeteer for this production – cheerfully greeting the audience, warming up the kids and providing a brief and interesting history of the evolution of the story from the original Brothers Grimm tale to the “kinder and gentler” version to be performed.
Piper then takes his place over the simple six foot stage and brings his marionettes to life. Intricate hand movements dangle over the set as each character dances across the stage and props come to life. Piper also voices all six characters throughout the production. While children are fixated on the show and the marionettes movements, parents will enjoy experiencing Piper perform his craft.
Parents will also appreciate the simple and unaffected nature of this show. It is wonderful to see children enjoying and actively responding to a live performance free of any high-tech components, animation or character marketing.
This is a delightful and engaging production that stays true to its narrative. For very little ones, it is advisable to discuss the story in advance as its theme could be surprising for those who are unfamiliar with the tale. Running only 40 minutes long, the show is able to sustain the attention of even the smallest audience members throughout the entire production.
The Bottom Line
A visit to The Puppet Co. is a wonderful way to spend a morning. Go to introduce this timeless tale to your children, support the art of puppetry and this historical playhouse, and take time to walk around the beautiful grounds at Glen Echo Park. Recommended for ages K-6.
- Hansel and Gretel runs at Glen Echo Park from March 27 to April 27, 2014 on Thursday and Fridays at 10:00 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.
- Tickets for adults and children are $10.00 each and can be purchased online.
- There will be an ASL performance on April 20.
- The Glen Echo Puppet Co. is also available for birthday parties, scout performances and special events. Call and talk to Mayfield, Christopher Piper’s warm and friendly wife (and the costume designer for the Puppet Co.) to learn more about what the theater can offer for individual events. Private bookings will offer the opportunity for Q&A’s with Piper, who has a rich and wonderful family history in puppetry.
Photos by Jennifer Rosenberg.