March comes in like a lion with Cardboard Explosion!
Andria Theatre brings Paper Heart Puppets to Alexandria
Cardboard Explosion! is a playful and creative puppet show where characters made of cardboard come to life. Performances will be held Friday, March 8 at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, March 9 at 10:00 a.m. and are presented by Paper Heart Puppets of Poughkeepsie, New York.
Each performance of Cardboard Explosion! is unique because puppeteer Brad Shur invites the audience to make choices in the storyline, and audience members become part of the show. The imaginative performance is enjoyable for all ages as they help outsmart dragons, choose a superpower, and train adorable animal sidekicks. Tickets are $10 each or $5 for children in elementary school or younger.
A puppet making workshop follows Saturday’s performance
The Make-A-Puppet Workshop (limited to 25 participants) is $25 for all ages and includes a ticket to the Saturday morning performance.
This show is the first puppet production Andria Theatre is planning to bring to Alexandria. The goal is to showcase various styles of puppetry and honor the strong roots of puppetry connected to Alexandria, according to Andria Theatre Executive Director Ann Hermes.
“Ken Martinson approached Andria Theatre about this idea last year. He piqued our interest when he pointed out how multiple people with ties to Alexandria have been involved with puppetry on a national level,” Hermes said. “It’s actually quite amazing to know that a community of our size has lent a hand (pun intended) to the puppetry arts.”
Among the connections:
• Two of the nine members currently serving on the Puppeteers of America Board of Directors were born and raised in Alexandria. Ken Martinson (now in Nashville, Tenn.) and Amanda Petefish-Schrag (now in Ames, Iowa) help lead the organization which was founded in 1937 to advance the art of puppetry. The 2019 Puppeteers of America National Puppetry Festival will be held at the University of Minnesota in July.
• Martinson and Petefish-Schrag were both involved with family puppet troupes based in Alexandria. The Martinson Family Puppeteers were active in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, traveling extensively throughout Minnesota and neighboring states. The Petefish Puppeteers traveled extensively in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Caroline Petefish and Alyssa Petefish continue to be active in local arts productions.
• Jim Black, pastor of Catalyst Covenant Church in Alexandria, was a writer and puppeteer for the children’s video series “Quigley’s Village.” More than 20 episodes were produced from the late ‘80s to early ‘90s and are still in circulation on DVD.
• Bonnie Erickson, whose parents Arnold and Ruth Erickson lived in Alexandria for many years, worked with Jim Henson and is credited with designing and building some of the most iconic Muppet characters, including Miss Piggy, the two hecklers Statler and Waldorf, and the Country Trio caricature puppets representing Jim Henson, Frank Oz and Jerry Nelson. She also went on to create famous sports mascots including the Phillie Phanatic, along with well-recognized characters in national advertising campaigns. Erickson still has family and friends living in the area.
Hermes said another factor that brings synergy between Andria Theatre and puppetry is one of this year’s Student Theatre Project summer camps. The Lion King Experience JR. will heavily rely on puppets and masks for the production. An NEA grant has been written to bring in a professional puppeteer from Washington, D.C. to help construct puppets and masks and work with students on bringing their characters to life.
Education and entertainment go hand-in-hand with puppetry. Cardboard Explosion! puppeteer Brad Shur will be in Alexandria a full week to perform and present workshops for Discovery Middle School students with drama teacher Tessa Lang.
The development of Cardboard Explosion! was funded in part by The Jim Henson Foundation. Support to bring the show to Alexandria comes from the Lake Region Arts Council, Virgil and Jeanne Batesole, Dave and Val Egge, Glenwood State Bank, Martinson Insurance, and Friends of the Library.