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(click on the pics for a bigger picture.)

Yes, I’ll admit, I’ve always wanted to play the Mad-Hatter in a puppet show. This is why it is the Mad Hatter’s tea party that s-l-o-w-s down the Hare as I wrote the puppet show adaptations of The Tortoise and the Hare. Well for that, but also because I couldn’t think of how watching a Hare sleep under and tree or romp through flowers could be made into an interesting, entertaining script…..Voila–the Mad Hatter’s tea party was born again, sorta.

We were ready-----(Tina, Odette and Ann-she signed the show- line up with me wishing they could run away

We were ready—–(Tina Bushnell, Odette Hinson and Ann Lozotte(-she signed the show-) line up with me wishing they could run away…

It can be painful learning a show...and sometimes you just gotta laugh since there's no way any of it will work out.

It can be painful learning a show…and sometimes you just gotta laugh since there’s no way any of it will work out.(practice while thinking of calling in sick on the day of the show)

It’s quite an ordeal to pre-plan the adaptation, write the script, order needed  items, build the set and props, practice, direct and then perform the puppet show. In all, we had over 100 hours of time put into this production…and I was sorry that 50 or so children who hadn’t pre–signed up and reserved a spot in the audiences for either one of two “Sold-out” free shows had to be turned away.

The script was full of puns: “Do you have money for Hare-fare?”; “Here’s a Hare-brush”;”Let’s not split, Hares”; and “Hare today; gone tomorrow” These were just  a few-

The Hatter meant it when he said, "Let's look OVER the menu."

The Hatter meant it when he said, “Let’s look OVER the menu.”

Hare: “But I can’t read what’s on the menu!”(by just looking over it)

Hatter: “Excellent idea; we’ll eat what ‘s on the menu!”

In one of the funnier parts, the waiter uses a sight gag of large portions for the Hatter and small portions for the Hare.

Large lettuce leaf and tomato for me

First a large carrot for me and a five CARAT ring for the starving Hare. Then, a large lettuce leaf and tomato for me

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small tomato with bite out of it for the Hare

Small tomato with bite out of it for the Hare

The bit here ends when the Hatter pretends to eat his menu, now folded around the food items as if it were a sandwich-er, on the menu.

Hatter: Bon Appetit

Hare: Wait, I can’t eat this! ( The menu as a sandwich)

Hatter: But people always eat what’s on the Menu!

The waiter-played by Odette, changes into four or more nationalities as she returns with food to put”On” the menu, or delivers a large carrot for me and a five Carat diamond ring for the starving Hare etc. In all, I think Odette changed costumes about 8 times within a 35 minute program–that’s work.

In the beginning, the set was ready and quiet.

In the beginning, the set was ready and quiet.

Wait–in the beginning the people who’d be doing the play were determined,,,their talents came into play and helped define the roles they might do well.

Random thought:

Why didn't the term, Mosshead, take hold?  That all got me thinking -I guess it’s the same for Fox News Producers…they have to dice out who can do what for their shows.

So they had to decide what roll Megyn Kelly might best be suited for on their TV show....

So they had to decide what roll, Megyn Kelly, might best be suited for on their TV show….then make her toast, I mean host.

Maybe,  we all buy into what puppets tells us?

Anyway, for us the first act was all puppets….

Children buy into puppets ,,always.....

Children buy into puppets ,,always…..(Ann Lezotte signs)

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Everything was set behind stage

lots of lines to keep track of

lots of lines to keep track of…

We always have a rocking time of it…

I first looked over the Hairy Hare name Harry and thought her a bit fuzzy-she explained she was hairy all over, which I thought an odd name...Then she said , "No I'm only Hairy." That name seemed no better.... "No" The Hare said. "I'm just Harry." This is why I called the Medic- obviously Hairy all over and Only Hairy were missing,, maybe in trouble,,,maybe hurt....

I first looked over  Hairy Hare name Harry and thought her a bit fuzzy-she explained she was hairy all over, which I thought an odd name…Then she said , “No I’m only Hairy.” That name seemed no better…. “No” The Hare said. “I’m just Harry.” This is why I called the Medic- obviously Hairy all over and Only Hairy had gone missing,, they could’ve been in trouble,,,maybe hurt….missing for sure

We kept the pace of puns going on throughout and  you can’t flip a phrase into humor if the first one isn’t said just right. That put pressure on us to remember the subtle twists of the script.

Of course we had a safety net made of endless confetti and horn blowers for each child.....

Of course we had a safety net made of endless confetti and horn blowers for each child at the play’s end…

In the end, it was. I found myself back stage with bending head realizing that after 21 years of doing puppet shows, I wouldn’t be doing them forever. Plus, one cast member had mentioned that maybe this was her last hurrah(the position in the puppet shows so filled with huge work is voluntary.) It all set me back- back to twenty years ago when I was 47 and new to the Library District.., young, limber, full of energy and so willing to go for it.  Then, I thought about how much I would miss doing these shows with the current cast members, how much they’d given to me, to the shows, and how wonderful they are. It was a moment of triumphant filled with a sense of loss for me.

“Are you alright?”

Tina’s sweet voice called from my left, startling me,  catching me in my retrospective moment-

“Yes.” I smiled. “I’m alright.”  I couldn’t go into how much Odette and Tina had meant to my efforts, our efforts, and how much I’d never forget the puppet shows, the laughter, or either of them. I owe them so much. I kept my thoughts private, until now.

I'' never forget the scenes

I’ll never forget the scenes–how about the tea cup?

But most of all, I’ll never forget the children’s faces, the laughter and joy we’ve managed to bring to them.

I know it a small thing-but this troupe has worked wonders...and I'm so proud of them.

I know it’s a small thing-but this troupe has worked wonders…and I’m so proud of them.

 

Cheers, and I’ve a few more shows left in me as long as the ‘creek don’t rise’…

Franque23 loves his troupe.

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The set was ready for The Wide Mouth Frog...

The set was finally ready for The Wide-Mouth Frog…

The Wide Mouth Frog get sready for action--but it turns out, she had a frog stuck in her throat Medics were luckily able to remove during the play

The Wide Mouth Frog gets ready for action–but it turns out, the star had a frog stuck in her throat that Medics were luckily able to remove during the play

This Puppet show, however, was hardly our first  rodeo on the circuit.

This Puppet show, however, was hardly our first rodeo on the circuit.

Rumpelstiltskin was a super time.....

Rumpelstiltskin was a super time…..

As director, the hardest thing to over come is the shy nature of my cast members...

As director, the hardest thing to over come is the shy nature of my cast members…

It's like pulllin' teeth trying to get my workmates to slough off their routines and dress up.

It’s like pulllin’ teeth trying to get my workmates to slough off their routine clothing and dress up.

The hardest thing is to get them to wear hats!

The hardest thing is to get them to wear hats!

No wait!- It’s impossible to get our crew to wear hats! Why-oh why!?!??!

Another ho-hum day at work.....

Another ho-hum day at work…..

I work hard to write the lines I know they'll forget!

I work hard to write the puppet show lines that we all will forget come show time!

I have to beg patrons to attend...

I have to beg patrons to attend…

Sometimes, the work gets soooo difficult, "Find your marks!", "Speak to the audience!", "Please show up!", "Forget it! Just say anything!", that all I see as porducer is red!

Sometimes, production gets soooo difficult, “Find your marks!”, “Speak to the audience!”, “Please show up!”, “Forget it! Just say anything!”, that all I see  is red!

There are always intense moments......

There are always intense moments just before show time……

Sometimes I think we take the color and shape of our hair too seriously.

Cast members have discussions-producing the puppet show is a decision making process.

 Sometimes, I go a bit over board....

Sometimes, I go a bit over board….

But in the end…..

We Slay the beast--and the show is done!

We slay the beast–get thru the performances and the shows are done!

Until the next one.

We rest together once more, knowing the crowd the loved it! And, so did we......

We rest together once more, knowing the crowd loved it! And, so did we……

The next blog will show how the set for the Wide-Mouth Frog was built-and give an idea of how many people  actually helped make it happen.

The Wide Mouth Frog was a super good time, and we'll do this puppet show again this summer at the Alachua County's Headquarter's Branch Library---see you then!

The Wide-Mouth Frog was a super good time, and we’ll do this puppet show again this summer at the Alachua County’s Headquarter’s Branch Library—see you then!

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We always have a good time.

Franque23ish.

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