Yiddish Folktales at Puppet Showplace!

"Puppets Around the World"

Series of puppetry styles and folktales from across the globe continues with...

"The Magic Soup and Other Stories"
by Artist in Residence, Brad Shur
Mar 27 & 28 (Thu & Fri) | 10:30 am
Mar 29 & 30 (Sat & Sun) | 1 pm & 3 pm


When the things are looking down, how do you find the strength to persevere? Join Brad Shur as he shares one young adult’s story of challenge and triumph, through family history and family dinner.

This collection of yiddish folktales features your favorite stories from the Jewish tradition of Eastern Europe: “The Naked Truth and Resplendent Parable,” “The Egg Seller,” “The Very Small House,” “A Coat for Poverty,” “Pleasing All the World,” and “The Magic Soup." All of the puppetry elements and set pieces are designed and crafted by Brad Shur, Puppet Showplace in Residence.

Resplendent Parable character from "The Magic Soup and Other Stories"
About the Performance

What do you do when your relatives are coming over for dinner, but there's no food in sight? A young man's search for a family recipe ends up bringing folk tales to life...in his kitchen. Based on a collection of traditional Yiddish stories, "The Magic Soup" teaches that it is those with wit, humor and imagination who have the best chance of filling their bellies -- and fulfilling their dreams.

Trickster character, Hershel of Ostropol.
About the Performer

Brad Shur is a versatile puppeteer who has created and performed characters made of everything from pixels to papier mache. As the Artist in Residence at Puppet Showplace Theatre he performs regularly and teaches puppetry classes to students of all ages, Pre-K to adult. As protégé of master puppeteer Paul Vincent Davis, Shur trained extensively in glove puppetry and currently performs two of Davis’ classic shows at venues across New England. In January, he completed production for "Robin Hood," Shur's first original glove puppet show. Shur’s other original works include "The Carrot Salesman," "Dr. Doohickey and the Monster Machine," "The Yankee Peddler: Stories and Songs from Old New England" and "The Magic Soup and Other Stories," featured at the Puppeteers of America National Festival 2013.

Brad Shur with puppet character, the “Naked Ugly Truth”
in “The Magic Soup and Other Stories”.
Prior to becoming the Artist in Residence at Puppet Showplace, Shur toured the country as a performer with Big Nazo (Rhode Island), Wood & Strings Theatre (Tennessee) and The PuppeTree (Vermont). As a builder Shur has designed and fabricated puppets for American Idol, Dollywood, Avenue Q, and the U.S.S. Constitution Museum. He is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design.

Don’t miss the “Naked Ugly Truth” in “The Magic Soup and Other Stories”.

March Puppet Slam: Puppets Around the World

"Puppets at Night"
Series of evening puppetry performances for adults and teens presents...

Chinese Theatre Works (NYC)
"Puppet Showplace Slam: International Edition"
Saturday, March 22 at 8pm


Every other month Puppet Showplace stays open late to deliver the finest in grown-up short form puppetry entertainment. Each cabaret-style piece is performed by a different artist or artists, and the content can be wide-ranging: some acts are elegant or poignant, others are satiric, irreverent, or humorous, and still others can be passionate, political, or spiritual in nature. 

In honor of the World Day of Puppetry, March's Puppet Showplace Slam will bring together puppetry styles and stories from around the globe. Performers include Chinese Theatre Works (NYC), Israeli mask artist Avital Peleg, Margaret Moody of Galapagos Puppets, Puppet Master Jake, Accordionist Ian Theo Mitchell, and more!

Cash bar! Beer and wine will be served.

Meet the Man Behind the Sock Puppet

Behind-the-Scenes of “The Joshua Show” with Joshua Holden

Puppets at Night, a series of evening puppetry performances for adult and teen audiences at Puppet Showplace Theatre presents “The Joshua Show” by Joshua Holden, Fri & Sat, Feb 28 & Mar 1 at 8pm. This award-winning performance features classic vaudeville physical humor, original live music, puppets and even tap dancing! Tickets: www.puppetshowplace.org

Interview with Joshua Holden...

How did you become a performer?

I started performing in community theatre at the age of 7 after seeing my first live performance at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly. It became very clear to me that this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. In my junior year of high school i was awarded a scholarship to attend the Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick and graduated from there the following year. I feel so proud to be in Boston doing what I love.

How did you create “The Joshua Show”?

I lived a nomadic life for nearly four years while traveling the US with various national tours. At the end of this long chapter of my life, I had no home base and no obligations. I went on a road trip with a friend, and while passing through Chicago, I was invited to perform in a puppet slam. It felt way too scary to create an original piece in such a short amount of time and I initially said, "No, I wouldn't know what to do" My friend responded with, “Well, what do you daydream about?” and I jokingly said, "I want to be the next Mr. Rogers and host my own television show." She said, "then do it!" So, that’s what I did! I made two puppets, and called the piece “The Joy Friends.” It was only 10 minutes long, but people were so excited about what they saw at the puppet slam that I decided that I would continue working on it.

Joshua Holden, puppeteer in "Peter Pan 360"
Who did you collaborate with to create “The Joshua Show”?

I have worked with two very talented musicians: Alex Knapp & Tim Hansen. Tim is an Australian composer that I met in New York about a year and a half ago. When the piece was still in development, we tried out new material at puppet slams and workshops. Tim wrote an adorably awesome song celebrating what it’s like to be a sheep called “When you’re a sheep” back in 2008 and we worked it into the show. He has now since moved back to Australia but when he said he would be in the U.S. this February, I had to have him as part of the performance of “The Joshua Show” at Puppet Showplace!

Joshua Holden with Tim Hansen, composer and musician.
Why do you incorporate puppets and tap dancing in your show?

I present myself in “The Joshua Show” as a gentleman and I create work that is genuinely accessible to both kids and adults. I strive to create work that spreads joy to my audiences. Bringing puppets to the show is a no-brainer because they are instant joy makers. Tap dancing is one of the happiest forms of dancing and it's intergenerational. It pumps up the energy of the show.

Joshua Holden with puppet character from "The Joshua Show"

What was your experience at the 2013 National Puppetry Festival?

Applying for the National Puppet Festival was scary but exciting. I only had a 10 minute piece when I applied. I was accepted to perform at the festival under the agreement that I would expand the piece to 45 minutes in length. Over the course of a year I traveled all over the country from New York City, to Chicago, Philadelphia and even Reading, MA adding more material with each performance. When I finally got to the festival, I was overwhelmed with the national puppet community and the abundant talent surrounding me. When I was awarded “Fan Favorite” and “Best Performance” at the awards ceremony, I was shocked and incredibly proud that all my hard work had paid off.

Who inspires and influences your creative work?

I often find myself looking at classic children's television hosts. Mr. Rogers is my biggest influence. Everyone was affected by him as a humanitarian and everyone's best friend. Yes, he was a bit sappy, but he made you feel so good about yourself and his positive messages resonated with everyone. When I look at what’s happening in today's entertainment, we don’t have that classic host with a cast of characters. I want to create a platform similar to Mr. Rogers and talk about the issues we are dealing with in todays world.

Joshua Holden with Mr. Nicholas in "The Joshua Show"
What do you hope to communicate to the audience?

This show is 100% from my heart. It's about celebrating our differences and finding joy in everyday life and about respecting your feelings and the feelings of others. It's about loving this awesome life we get to live each and every day.

What is next for the Joshua show?

I'm currently creating new material for "The Joshua Show" that I will be filming and putting on my YouTube channel in attempts to expand my audience and reach as many people as I can. I'm greatly honored to announce that in the spring of 2015 I will be performing at The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, GA for thirteen shows.

More Puppets Around the World!

Aesop's Fables
by Applause Unlimited

Thurs & Fri, Feb 27 & 28 at 10:30 am
Sat & Sun, Mar 1 & 2 at 1:00 & 3:00pm


From "The Country Mouse and The City Mouse", "Aesop's Fables" by Applause Unlimited
Up next in the “Puppets Around the World"series...Aesop’s Fables!

Though little is known about the mysterious Aesop, a poor man in ancient Greece, his stories have stayed with us for centuries. Enduring the test of time, Aesop’s fables have been passed down through different generations and cultures to take on the form they exist in today. Short, imaginative tales, Aesop’s fables utilize animals and nature to reveal greater truths of the human condition, and convey morals for humankind to accept.

Renaissance era depiction of what Aesop may have looked like.

Applause Unlimited's production includes three of Aesop’s classic stories: “The Ant and the Grasshopper” in which a busy ant teaches us the importance of being prepared; “The Country Mouse and the City Mouse” in which we learn that some risks aren’t worth taking; and “The Tortoise and the Hare” in which a wise tortoise teaches us that boasting will not win a race.


Christopher Hudert (Applause Unlimited) began his theatrical career at an early age, performing with The Children's Theater of Richmond, Puppetfest Productions, and other Virginia-based companies. While pursuing a degree in Theater Education, Christopher joined the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus and toured for 9 years across the United States and Japan. After achieving the rank of Boss Clown, he left the circus to create his own company with master puppeteer Terry Snyder. Since its founding, Applause Unlimited has received two UNIMA Citations of Excellence, the highest recognition in American puppetry, and has performed in theaters and at festivals worldwide. 

Christopher Hudert (Applause Unlimited) performing "The Magic of Hans Christian Andersen"
We invite you to revisit these classic tales through the magic of puppetry, and join us as Aesop’s fables come alive on stage at Puppet Showplace Theatre!

"Poste Restante" at Charlestown Working Theater

Squirrel Stole My Underpants Creator Performs for Adults
by Guest Blogger: Bonnie Duncan, (They Gotta Be Secret Agents)

Bonnie Duncan and Tim Gallagher in "Poste Restante"
Poste Restante: A madly inventive mix of acrobatics, paper, laughter, dance, flight, puppetry, longing, and film…all stuffed neatly into a box.

Before creating "Squirrel Stole My Underpants" at Puppet Showplace, I focused my performing work on adult audiences.  "Poste Restante", a piece I made with my dance partner Tim Gallagher, is returning to Boston Feb 20-23rd at Charlestown Working Theater. 

Beyond being a lovely piece of theater, here are the...

Top 5 Reasons you should go see Poste Restante:

1.  If the child in you enjoyed Squirrel Stole My Underpants, the adult in you will be charmed, wowed, and touched by Poste Restante.  It’s the perfect date-night piece of theater.  Or, bring the kids to our Sunday, Feb 23rd show at 2:00 pm---it’s family-friendly!

2.  You can have it all:  Soulful Acrobatics!  Cheeky Theatre!  Refreshing Dance, Puppetry, & Film!  Tim Gallagher and I perform a brilliantly imaginative form of physical theater, effortlessly moving back and forth between acrobatics, puppetry and dance. Our poetically beautiful, absurdly logical show is by turns funny, dazzling, and, in the end, surprisingly poignant.

3.  Poste Restante brings communication down from a high-tech, instant, "now,now, now" process to a more tangible, visceral level where letters and boxes travel through real space and time, and survive countless potential mishaps along the way.  “The charming performance piece is a love letter to the deep human need we have to connect and the terrible trouble we have in succeeding.” – Culture Map Austin

4.  We perform under the name “They Gotta BeSecret Agents” which is apt, considering how we usually spend our daily lives:  I am the mother of 3 kids under the age of 5, living in Jamaica Plain; Tim is finishing up medical school in New York City and will begin a 4 year residency in Emergency Medicine in June.  We created and currently rehearse this show on the weekends, traveling between cities, mailing various items and ideas through the mail.

5.  This show won “Best Touring Show” (Austin Critic’s Table), “Best of the Fringe” & “Best Physical Comedy” (San Francisco Fringe).  It’s received standing ovations from audiences across the US and Europe.  The Prague Post called Poste Restante "Inspired choreography that is so stark and evocative... this crowd pleaser is not to be missed.”  It was developed with support from the Jim Henson Foundation, Puppeteers of America Endowment grant, Cambridge Arts Council, and the Mass Cultural Council. 

See you and your friends there!

- Bonnie

Behind-the-Scenes of "Robin Hood" at Puppet Showplace

by Guest Blogger: Sarah Goone, Artistic Intern

Puppet Showplace intern, Sarah Goone shares her experience working with Artist in Residence Brad Shur on his new production of "Robin Hood." The show premiered this January as part of the theater's "New Year, New Shows" series, an annual event that showcases new work by local artists.  VIEW SHOW CALENDAR

Sarah Goone, Artistic Intern at Puppet Showplace
Hello! My name is Sarah Goone and I am currently the Artistic Intern at Puppet Showplace Theatre for about 7 weeks this winter. I kicked off the season on literally the first day of the year at First Night, where I first met Roxie, who’s acting as my supervisor while I’m at Puppet Showplace, and many other amazing people from the theater and from other puppet theaters. It was a crazy, long first day, but I knew right away that I was in the right place.

Robin's clothes on the clothes line made by Sarah in "Robin Hood" by Brad Shur
Right after the crazy First Night, I started working with Brad Shur on his original production, "Robin Hood." My first assignment was to design and sew tiny clothing items to go on a clothesline in the "Robin Hood" set. I was very grateful that he gave me so much freedom to do so. I am very experienced in sewing but have never made a pattern before, and Brad just told me to try something out and see what I could do. I worked for the day on some little knickers, a few shirts, and a few pairs of socks. It really was not that difficult, and I was pretty happy with what I had come up with, as was Brad.

Guard costume built by Sarah for "Robin Hood" by Brad Shur
After that, he just kept giving me a lot of projects to either completely construct props by myself, or to help prime and sand different props and scenery items that were in the process of being built. My favorite project was to completely re-sew the Guard’s costume because it again challenged my patterning skills, but this time for an actual puppet to wear. It also was a very challenging knit fabric to work with, so finishing the costume felt like I had really accomplished something great. 

Maid Marion's mask, details painted by Sarah for "Robin Hood" by Brad Shur
When I saw one of his shows on the opening weekend, it was so exciting to point out all the things I had made to my roommates who came to see the show with me. I never thought, going into the internship, that I’d be able to say I helped build the set and even got to mend and create some costumes!

Overall, I had an amazing time working with Brad, and enjoyed the times when we’d both be working in the same space so he could tell me about how he got into puppetry, which is very similar to how I did, and he gave me some neat insights into the “puppet world”.  -Sarah

For more information about becoming an intern at Puppet Showplace: VIEW INFO

December Vacation Week is ALMOST HERE!

Puppet Showplace Theatre's Snowy Stories series continues with...

"Hansel and Gretel" 

by Tanglewood Marionettes
Thurs & Fri, Dec 19 & 20 at 10:30am
Sat & Sun, Dec 21 & 22 at 1pm & 3pm


It's the last week of school before winter break, and we have quite a line-up of holiday fun in store for you! Follow Hansel and Gretel into the forrest for an exciting gingerbread adventure performed by Tanglewood Marionettes this Thursday, Dec 19 through Sunday, Dec 22.

Take a look at all of our upcoming school vacation week performances: VIEW CALENDAR

About the show: In this original adaptation of the classic fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel need to work together, using both brains and bravery, to find their way out of the woods. This beautifully hand-crafted production by Tanglewood Marionettes begins with an interactive puppet demonstration and features enchanting music from Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel" opera.

About the performer: Founded in 1993 by Peter and Anne Schaefer, Tanglewood Marionettes is a nationally touring marionette company whose unique productions have been seen by hundreds of thousands of children and families across the country. With seven shows currently in their repertoire, the company performs year-round at venues ranging from school assemblies to renowned cultural institutions.

Performer Peter Schaefer was born into a Boston-area family of puppeteers and has visited Puppet Showplace since he was a child. After apprenticing with the Bennington Puppets, Peter launched his own company, “Mountain Marionettes,” before joining with Anne Schaefer and fellow Bennington puppeteer Stephen Hancock to form Tanglewood Marionettes.

Performers Jennifer Tebo and Peter Schaefer
Performer Jennifer Tebo discovered her love of puppetry while pursuing a degree in Theater and Classical Studies at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She has been touring with Tanglewood Marionettes since 2004 and plans to spend a lifetime in puppetry.

The company has received two UNIMA awards, puppetry's highest honor, for their productions An Arabian Adventure and The Dragon King.

Tanglewood Marionettes believes above all that a performance is a communal experience, with connections established not only with the performers, but also between members of the audience themselves as they laugh together, gasp together, and cheer together when the good guys prevail! More info: http://tanglewoodmarionettes.com/

Snowy Stories Series Begins at Puppet Showplace!

Snowy Stories: Dec 5-Jan 2 (VIEW CALENDAR)

This December through January, Puppet Showplace presents a series of puppet shows for the whole family that feature snowy stories and holiday themed fun! Enjoy original tales like "Squirrel Stole My Underpants!" by Bonnie Duncan, to classic stories like "Hansel and Gretel" and "Peter and the Wolf." How many "Snowy Stories" will you see this holiday season?!

The series kicks-off with a HILARIOUS glove puppet show by puppeteer and children's librarian, Sparky Davis! Baby Emma the bulldog and friends host a cabaret of short snowy-themed folktales for the whole family. SERIOUSLY. This show will have the little ones AND the adults in stitches!

"Tales from Snowy Lands" 
by Sparky's Puppets

Thu & Fri, December 5 & 6 @ 10:30 am
Sat & Sun December 7 & 8 @ 1:00 & 3:00 pm


About the show: Sparky's Puppets perform a lively medley of stories that all take place on a winter's day. Watch Jack Frost's magic bring a snowman to life. Find out what happens when a boastful bear goes ice fishing. And laugh at the antics of three pesky goblins as they visit a toy maker's shop on a cold and snowy day. Lots of audience interaction, clever word play, and skillful puppet performance make this a a fun and memorable show!

About the performer: Kathleen “Sparky” Davis began dramatizing stories with hand puppets while working as a children's librarian. Since 1980, Sparky's Puppets have delighted children and family audiences at schools, libraries and festivals throughout New England. Every summer, Sparky creates a special show for the Rhode Island statewide public libraries' summer reading program.

Sparky loves to see children's reactions to their favorite stories brought to life with endearing puppet characters. She is known for her quick wit and hilarious sense of humor. A preschool child at a recent show was heard to say. "It was so funny I burst out laughing!"

Join the good doctor and his rabbit assistant this week at Puppet Showplace!

FINAL SHOW of the Halloween Extravaganza series..

"Dr. Doohickey's Monster Machine" 
by Brad Shur, Artist in Residence 

Thurs & Fri, Oct 31 & Nov 1 at 10:30am
Sat & Sun,  Nov 3 1:00 & 3:00pm


Halloween is almost here! Have you picked out your costume yet? Heard a spooky story, or watched some of your favorite ghoulish movies? Here at Puppet Showplace, we are getting ready for Halloween night by switching on the MONSTER MACHINE! Dr. Doohickey has transformed the theatre into his monster machine laboratory full of as many gadgets as surprises!

Audience members are encouraged to attend performances in their Halloween costumes!

About the show: Dr. Doohickey always thought that monsters were more interesting than people. Why have two arms when you could have seven? Join the good doctor and his rabbit assistant, Reginald, as they fire up the Monster Machine on their quest to make the world a more interesting place. Featuring a cast of oversized puppets and "monsterizied" versions of your favorite fables, audiences of all ages will love this fun and interactive show! 

Brad Shur as "Dr.Doohickey" with his rabbit Reginald, and friend Bella Monster!
About the performer: Brad Shur is a versatile puppeteer who has created and performed characters made of everything from pixels to papier mache. As the Artist in Residence at Puppet Showplace Theatre he performs regularly and teaches puppetry classes to students of all ages, Pre-K to adult. As protégé of master puppeteer Paul Vincent Davis, Shur trained extensively in glove puppetry and currently performs two of Davis’ classic shows at venues across New England. 

Shur’s original works include "The Carrot Salesman," "Dr. Doohickey and the Monster Machine," "The Yankee Peddler: Stories and Songs from Old New England" and "The Magic Soup and Other Stories," recently featured at the Puppeteers of America National Festival 2013. Shur is currently working on a new adaptation of "Robin Hood," set to open in January 2014.

Prior to becoming the Artist in Residence at Puppet Showplace, Shur toured the country as a performer with Big Nazo (Rhode Island), Wood & Strings Theatre (Tennessee) and The PuppeTree (Vermont). As a builder Shur has designed and fabricated puppets for American Idol, Dollywood, Avenue Q, and the U.S.S. Constitution Museum. Shur is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design.

Halloween Extravaganza at Puppet Showplace!

Celebrate spooky stories this Halloween at Puppet Showplace with two special events on Halloween Night!

Trick or Treat! Thursday, October 31, 4 to 7pm

Tricker-treaters of all ages are invited to drop-in between 4pm and 7pm Halloween night for an open-house event with free refreshments, activities and prizes! Come make your own Halloween-themed puppet, show off your costume with Bella Monster, and meet Dr. Doohickey and explore his monster laboratory. No reservations required, and this event is free!

Spooky Story Slam! Thursday, October 31, 8 to 10pm


Forget kitten costumes and candy corn...Halloween is a time to get scared! Witness the dark side of traditional folklore as MassMouth's professional storytellers duke it out in an uncensored scary story showdown. Not frightening enough? Spooky gets REAL as audience members take the stage to tell their own first-person accounts of the supernatural, spooky, and surreal. From apparitions to zombies (and everything in between) this is a night you won't want to miss!

Hop-on-over to Puppet Showplace this weekend!

UP NEXT: 3rd Annual Fall Fairy Tale Festival Continues...

"The Frog Prince" 
by Pumpernickel Puppets 
Sat & Sun, Sept 14 & 15 at 1pm & 3pm


About the show: Young Prince Tad has been caught teasing the forest creatures again! A magic tree turns him into a frog to teach him a lesson. Along the way, he meets a princess who could turn him back with a kiss. Will she do it? Yuck! All ends happily as the characters learn about being kind and keeping promises. "The Frog Prince" features a cast of colorful puppet characters, audience participation, live voices and sound effects, and fun behind-the-scenes puppet demonstrations.

Pumpernickel Puppets shows are a great introduction to live puppetry, and they work well for our youngest audiences. The characters are eye-catching, the storytelling is straightforward, and the performance has breaks built in between sections of the show for wiggly audience members. John McDonough has a gentle yet energetic personality that captivates audiences of all ages.

About the performer: The Pumpernickel Puppets are the creation of John McDonough of Worcester, Massachusetts. John was four years old when he saw his first puppet show, and he immediately knew that he wanted to be a puppeteer. By his teens, John was presenting shows all over the New England area. The Pumpernickel Puppets have had the honor of appearing at The Puppet Showplace Theatre, Boston Children’s Museum, The Institute of Professional Puppetry Arts at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, The Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., The Cultural Olympiad at The Center For Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Georgia, and the prestigious International Festival of Puppet Theatre sponsored by the Jim Henson Foundation at the Joseph Papp Public Theatre in New York. For each production, John creates and performs all of his own puppets, which range from small hand puppets to larger-than-life figures.

Final Summer Puppet Adventure of the Season!

The most adventurous, beanstalk climbing story book character of them all closes out our Summer Puppet Adventures series this weekend- That's right, JACK IS BACK!

"Jack and the Beanstalk" 
by Dream Tale Puppets

Saturday, August 24 at 10:30am & 1pm

About the show: "Jack and the Beanstalk" is a joyous, original adaptation of the classic tale about poor Jack who went to sell his cow for three magic beans and out-witted a boy-eating giant. Jack's daring adventure up the huge beanstalk helps him and his mother out of their difficult financial situation, even if his mother is a bit worried about the moral issues surrounding this unusual way to acquire wealth. Hand puppets, Table Top puppets, Marionettes, and Masks.

About the performer: Dream Tale Puppets is a continuation of the Story and Puppet Time project which began at the Cape Cod Children’s Museum in April 2003.  Jacek Zuzanski has a Master of Art degree from The State Puppetry Institute in Wrocław, Poland, and The Ministry for Art and Culture’s Stage Directing Certificate. Jacek currently teaches acting and puppetry at the Cape Cod Conservatory and at the Falmouth Academy.

Jacek also teaches puppetry at Puppet Showplace, and will be leading a week long performance technique summer camp for ages 7-12, August 26-30. LEARN MORE!

Go Behind the Scenes of National Marionette Theatre

One Father, Two Sons, 114 years of Marionette Performance!
by Guest Blogger: Honey Goodenough, puppeteer
Honey and the Cricket from NMT's "Pinocchio."
Performing with the National Marionette Theatre (NMT) is like performing with a piece of history. The National Marionette Theatre has been part of the Syrotiak family since 1967 when it was founded after the World's Fair in NYC. Father, David Syrotiak Sr. saw his first puppet show in second grade and was hooked. He began building marionettes at age 11, with the guidance of Rufus and Margo Rose. By lying about his age, he started performing professionally at 15 with The Berkely Marionettes.  In the summer of 1953, he toured with the Suzari Marionettes, and later Nicolo Marionettes performing with fellow contemporaries such as Wayland Flowers, Nick Coppola, and Pady Blackwood.
Signed book by Rufus and Margo Rose, pioneer marionettists,
given to David Syrotiak Sr. at the age of 12 (1948)

He enlisted in the Army to qualify for the GI Bill, where he wrangled his way into The Special Services, where he commandeered his own puppet workshop and performed cabaret style marionette performances for fellow US troops. Some of his duties included hosting and greeting performers such as Velma Middleton and Louis Armstrong. After completing his term in the Army, he attended The Silvermine School of Art in Connecticut. His performance credits include Sid and Marty Kroft and Bil Baird, performing shows at the New York World's Fair alongside fellow performers such as Carolee Wilcox, who later became the shop manager for Henson Associates.

A scene from NMT's "Pinocchio."
All four of the Syrotiak children, including Maggie, Catie, David Jr. and Peter have performed and voiced characters for The National Marionette Theatre.  David's wife, Marianna, has performed with the company for many years, and even now the legacy is being shared with Steven Syrotiak, David and Marianna's 15 year old son, who joins the company as a sound tech and crew for their production of "Peter and the Wolf." This week at Puppet Showplace Theatre we are performing "Pinocchio," which is the only show where all four of the Syrotiak siblings voice characters.
Joining a Legacy

I joined the company in January, and began rehearsing under the direction of David J. and Peter Syrotiak.  I first began by running sound for "Peter and the Wolf," and shortly after was invited to perform "Sleeping Beauty" and have now joined them for this week's performances of "Pinocchio."  One of the highlights of the training process has been performing with the Syrotiak brothers, and then receiving notes from their father, David. When you add all their years of marionette performance together it totals 114 years.  In my brief time touring with the company, we have been hosted in some of the most lovely theaters and museums throughout the Northeast. I am proud to say that this native Texan has now toured all of the New England states - sometimes all in the same day!  I enjoy the long drives and the view of the New England countryside as well as sampling the local fare - my favorite being fresh New England lobster! The Syrotiaks are not only are meticulous marionettists, but are equally as passionate about cuisine and are amazing chefs!

Honey rehearsing "Sleeping Beauty" with David Sr.
Housed in the Green Mountains of Battleboro (VT), The National Marionette Theatre has a beautiful workshop/performance space where they rehearse and build all their shows. It is 1600 square feet filled with marionette shows and memories. They house 350 marionettes from more than 20 different shows that range throughout their repertoire. Touring is a conglomeration of performers. Since we all live in different states spanning from Pennsylvania to New York and Vermont, we convene at the studio to collect the show, pack the car, and then drive to the venue for sometimes more than 11 hours.  

The Syrotiak Technique

The Syrotiaks perform with American style airplane controls but with several unique modifications. They use a yoke string on their marionette's arms which connect their puppet's hands and forearms, this creates a subtle automatic wrist action. They also use elbow strings on almost all of their marionettes, which gives their puppets a broad range of action and variety of expression. The most surprising modification for a new puppeteer to their company is that they perform with gloved hands and without a proscenium. The performance and the performers are in full view of the audience at all times. On a number of occasions, our audience  has remarked on our intricate manipulation and performer cooperation throughout the show. Many of the scenes require quick passes from one puppeteer to the next. The backstage action is as delicately choreographed as the performance on stage. Our audiences see a show within a show! 

Honey, David Jr. and Peter Syrotiak after a performance of "Peter and the Wolf"

Journey from Apprentice to Master

After 12 years of training with marionettes in New Jersey and throughout the NYC area, I still consider myself a student of the craft.  I have been fortunate to have  studied with marionette artists such as Phillip Huber, Jim Rose, Nicholas Coppola, Steve Widerman, Kevin Frisch and Jim Raccioppi. The more I learn from the Syrotiak family and fellow performers, the more I learn about the rich history of marionette performance throughout the United States. Now when I compare marionette styles and controls, I not only see the puppet, but also the influences of all the marionette performers that came before me. The art of puppetry is a living curriculum that is best shared through apprenticeship and practical experience. This community truly is a family of performers united by their passion for puppetry.

David Sr, Honey, and Paul Vincent Davis (Puppet Showplace Aritst-in-Residence Emeritus)

Summer Kickoff Weekend is HERE!

Sir George Slays the Heat During Summer Puppet Adventures 

Games, treats and more!

This weekend, July 6-7, Puppet Showplace will be presenting the first of a succession of family puppet shows as part of our Summer Puppet Adventures this July and August. Join us for what one parent blogger called "pure, air conditioned fun!"

First up is "Sir George and the Dragon" by Pumpernickel Puppets. After watching the show, enjoy free frozen treats donated by Whole Foods Market Brighton.

PLUS other FREE games, prizes and more!
Executive Director, Thom Yarnal

Our new Executive Director, Thom Yarnal, is an arts administrator, stage director and teacher with diverse performing credits who has spent the past 30 years creating and producing live cultural events in venues such as theaters, state correctional facilities, and international arts festivals.  

Thom will be at the theatre both Friday and Saturday, July 5 and 6! Enjoy a puppet show, snack on some free treats and get to know our new Executive Director. 


"Sir George and the Dragon"
 by Pumpernickel Puppets  
 Fri & Sat, July 6 & 7
10:30 AM & 1:00 PM

About the show: Join an adventurous princess as she journeys to Mystery Mountain to visit the Great Green Dragon. Along the way you’ll meet Zelda the babysitter, a silly bat, Sir George and his clumsy dog, and of course the lovable dragon. Will Sir George slay the dragon? Not to worry, everything ends happily in this fun show. Hand puppets. Recommended for ages 3 & up.

John McDonough with some of his vivacious hand puppets
For over thirty five years the Pumpernickel Puppets have captivated audiences of all ages. John McDonough and his puppets present over two hundred fifty shows a year at schools, libraries and private parties throughout the New England area. The Pumpernickel Puppets have had the honor of appearing at The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, The Center for Puppetry Arts, Atlanta, GA and the prestigious International Festival of Puppetry sponsored by the Jim Henson Foundation in New York.

The staff at Puppet Showplace is excited to begin the summer series under the direction of our new Executive Director, Thom and kickoff the season with a delightful performance by Pumpernickel Puppets. Join us for this exciting celebration of summer and puppetry!

Magical May Continues with Cinderella!

"A Woodland Cinderella"
by Deborah Costine, Puppeter!

Mother's Day Weekend at Puppet Showplace Theatre!

Thurs & Fri, May 9-10 at 10:30am
Sat & Sun, May 11-12 at 1 & 3pm

Buy Tickets!


In this original UNIMA award-winning version of Cinderella, the King of all Woodland Fairies wants his son to marry a fairy princess, but he knows that they are very hard to find. So the King hosts a great ball and commands all the young fairy maidens to attend. He hopes that the missing fern fairy princess will come. Will he find her?

This show is very popular for children aged four and up and their grownups.  It is also enjoyed equally by both boys and girls.

Deborah Costine, Puppeteer in Action!

Debbie grew up in Lancaster NH in a region known as “The Great North Woods.”  There were no visiting school assembly programs and the only puppet Debbie had ever seen was “Bunny-Rabbit” on “Captain Kangaroo” (TV reception was very limited there in the 50s!) When she was ten she made a puppet! She had no idea how to go about it but made a papier mache clown that still sits in her studio today.

Since 1974, Debbie has been one half of the well-known “Gerwick Puppets” touring throughout New England at schools, libraries, museums and events such as First Night Boston.  She writes the scripts with partner Lenny Gerwick, and makes all the puppets.  She estimates that over the past thirty years she has made over two hundred puppets! The Gerwick Puppets have presented over 5,000 performances to over a million children! Productions include “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp,” “Pilgrim Adventure to America,” “Inside the Haunted House” "Adventures From Thornton W. Burgess"  and "Midwinter Magic" to name a few. 

Beside her work with “Gerwick,” Debbie designs, constructs and performs her own solo shows called “Small Shows for Small Groups of Small Children.” Titles include “The Three Pigs and Other Tales,” “A Woodland Cinderella” and “The Twig Family in the Oak Tree.”  These are especially popular in pre-schools, libraries and birthday parties.

For lower elementary grades is "Turtle's New Home" that reflects Debbie's growing interest in the environment and the value of being connected to the outdoors.

She has taught puppetry classes at Plymouth State University in NH and Northeastern University in Boston, and Worcester State College.  She created a set of eight puppets for the National Park Service to teach about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railway. She has does professional voice work, such as playing numerous characters on the Verizon web-site: Superthinkers.com. 

Debbie's environmental interests have continued to grow - taking her outside on trails more and more, downstream in her kayak and a growing interest in bird identification.  Her own experience of growing up in a rural setting , playing outdoors, building "forts" in the woods with her brothers, wading in brooks, gave her an ongoing sense of the unlimited joys of the outdoors.  Now, Debbie's mission is to try to do what she can to promote a love of nature in children.  It is something that can give great pleasure to everyone.  Nature is everywhere! (from: http://www.deborahcostinenaturepuppets.com/about.html)

Become a Member this Spring at PST!


April 1 - April 21, 2013

Playing with puppets in the lobby

When you become a member of Puppet Showplace Theatre, not only will you be supporting a local non-profit arts organization, but you save on tickets, store purchases, birthday parties, and more!

Starting at just $50, there are membership packages designed for families of all sizes, and individuals as well! 


April Membership Drive: Anyone who becomes a member or renews their membership between April 1-21 is entered to win a family pack of 4 tickets to the Wheelock Family Theatre 2013-2014 season! (find more info below!)

Members make an impact!
Your support allows us to continue presenting quality performances and workshops all year long in our historic, intimate theatre. As a non-profit organization, only 60% of our operating costs are covered by ticket sales, so the rest comes from generous members and donors like you.

Benefits of PST membership
We thank our members for their generosity by providing special savings and benefits, Including:
  • Discounts on tickets, up to 33% off!
  • Discounts on purchases in our store!
  • Discounts on birthday party rentals!
  • Discounts on workshops & classes!
  • Invitation to members only events!
  • Priority seating, and more!

See the full list of membership benefits:
  click here


This April, we invite our members to GO BANANAS with fan favorite,
Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers!

To show our appreciation for PST members, we are hosting a special members-only post-show reception after the 3:00pm performance of Legend of the Banana Kid on Sunday, April 21st.  The reception will begin at 4:00pm.

  • Banana Snacks!
  • Behind the Scenes!
  • Meet the Performers!
The post-show event is FREE for members! To purchase tickets to the 3pm performance of Legend of the Banana Kid, click here.

Not a member? Now is the perfect time to join!


Discounted tickets to see puppet shows at PST, AND the chance to win 4 FREE TICKETS to the Wheelock Family Theatre, 2013-2014 season? It has never been so sweet to become a member at PST!  Anyone who becomes a member or renews their membership between April 1-21 is entered to win.

Wheelock Family Theatre: is a professional, non-profit theatre associated with Actor’s Equity, the union of professional actors and stage managers. Located on the campus of Wheelock College in Boston's Fenway District, Wheelock Family Theatre seeks to improve the lives of children and families through the shared experience of live theatre.

Shows in 2013-2014 season:

The Hobbit (Oct/Nov)
Hairspray (Jan/Feb), 
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (April/May).


Spring at PST Kicks off with Tales from Africa!

"Leopard Learns a Lesson" by Magpie Puppets
Fri | Mar. 1 | 10:30 AM
Sat & Sun | Mar 2, 3 | 1 PM & 3 PM


This is Magpie Puppets newest performance! The story is adapted from an African tale from Malawi. Leopard is always bullying and frightening smaller animals until Rabbit turns the tables on her with the help of the jungle’s two largest beasts, Elephant and Rhinoceros. The audience learns, along with Leopard, that cooperation works better than intimidation. The show features hand puppets, plus original music by Alison Reid! Recommended for ages 3 and up.


What a great lesson to learn! You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. You and your children will be greatly entertained well also reinforcing the wonderful lesson of teamwork.  


Maggie Whalen, Director of Magpie Puppets, a one-woman hand puppet theater, has been performing puppet shows for children and adults since 1969. In 1971, she founded and directed Poor People's Puppets in NYC, which performed in its own storefront theater from 1971 - 1974. She has worked with the Bread & Puppet Theatre in Vermont and Theater for the New City in New York. In addition to performing, Maggie has taught puppet-making workshops at schools, community centers and even at Club Med!

Magpie Puppets is included in the Massachusetts Cultural Council Performing and Touring Roster and is a participant in the New England States Touring Program.

This Week in Puppet Playtime...TREES!

Rumble rumble rumble . . . 
by Guest Blogger: Phil Berman, Puppet Playtime performer

Do you hear that? Underneath all the snow? It’s the sound of the acorns stretching in their sleep as they wait patiently for spring.

Performers Phil Berman and Brenda Huggins perform "The Girl and the Squirrel",
on stage tomorrow as part of PST's Puppet Playtime!
But how did they get underground when they come from a tree? They’re buried by squirrels saving their nutty snacks for later! The seeds the squirrels forget about start to sprout underground and break out when the weather gets warm.

Join us in the trees tomorrow morning for our fifth session of Puppet Playtime. We have lots in store for you: an arboreal Irish sing-a-long; interactive squirrel games; ballads celebrating American agricultural icons; and of course, the naughtiest crocheted squirrel south of the Charles River.

Brenda, Bella monster and I will be taking a break next week to get ready for the next five sessions of Puppet Playtime. We made it halfway – we hope you’ll continue to join us for the home stretch!!


Puppet Playtime
Wednesdays at 10:30am
Feb 13 & 27
March 6, 13, 20 & 27

Puppet Playtime is Puppet Showplace Theatre's NEW weekly interactive performance recommended for children 3 and under (and their grownups)

5-Session passes still available! 
Save by purchasing 5 sessions at one time; buy 4 get one free! There are only 6 sessions left, so now is a great time to take advantage of the 5-session flex pass.  Every week features a new theme with brand-new music and puppet show!

5-Session Flexible Pass: $100 ($75 for members) PURCHASE PASS

The Magic of Hans Christian Andersen coming to PST


The Emperor, Thumbelisa, and The Ugly Duckling
The Second Annual FALL FAIRYTALE FESTIVAL continues with...

The Magic of Hans Christian Andersen
by Applause Unlimited 

Fri Oct 5 | 10:30am & 3:00pm
Sat Oct 6, Sun Oct 7 | 1:00pm & 3:00pm

All hans on deck for a celebration of Hans Christian Andersen! Whether dealing with ducklings, a (very) little lass, or an emperor's wardrobe malfunction, the Danish fairytale author could find meaning and morals in everything. Check it out this week at PST.

About the show: Applause Unlimited celebrates one of the 20th century’s greatest storytellers - Hans Christian Andersen - with this magnificent UNIMA award winning show. Sometimes serious and heartwarming, sometimes downright silly, but always fun, the show features storytelling and song as well as multiple styles of puppets in three of Andersen’s best loved tales: “The Ugly Duckling,” “Thumbelisa,” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”
Hand puppets, rod puppets, and marionettes, recommended ages 4 & up

About the performer: Applause Unlimited offers a wide range of performances featuring fresh presentations of classic tales.  Their approach includes masks, storytelling, music, and comedy in a unique combination that quietly educates as it entertains.  Applause Unlimited has performed at festivals and in theaters worldwide.  Their shows have been acclaimed by audiences, educators, producers, and sponsors of children's and family entertainment - receiving two Citations Of Excellence from the Union Internionale de la Marionette.

Puppet Showplace Slam Roster Revealed!

Digital Fairy Godfather by Brad Shur

The Puppet Showplace Slam: Grown-up Fairytales Edition” presented by Puppet Showplace Theatre will take place on September 15 at 8:00 pm. The slam features  entertaining original works of puppetry, mask, and object theatre created by artists from across the New England Region.


Brad Shur – “A Digital Fairy Godfather Puppet”
Shur has been PST’s Artist-in-Residence since the fall of 2009. He has designed and fabricated puppets for American Idol, Dollywood, and other theaters and performers from Austin, Texas to Boston, Massachusetts
Nicola McEldowney

Jake Schacter aka Puppet Master Jake – “Cinderella (A Retelling)”
Puppet Master Jake’s wild interpretation of the classic fairytale is set in the Jurassic period (dino times) and involves an inter-species foot fetish. When he’s not puppeteering, PMJ works as a professional zookeeper.

Nicola McEldowney – “The Golden Stoat”
“The Golden Stoat” is an original bawdy, comedic fairytale set in the Groin region of France and features a large cast of mouth puppet characters. McEldowney is an actress, writer, and international woman of mystery.

John J. King (local playwright) – “The Fairy Wife”
“The Fairy Wife” is a fantasy about love, magic, and difficult choices. King’s other titles include “From Denmark with Love,” “Martha’s (B)rainstorm,” and “The Adventures of Dingleberry Gin.”

Norah Dooley

Norah Dooley
Dooley is a storyteller and critically acclaimed children’s author and educator. Additionally, she is the co-founder of massmouth, inc., a nonprofit that promotes storytelling through education, digital media, and live performance. Massmouth, inc. will be collaborating with PST in the coming months.

For more information about massmouth, inc./PST events, go here.

Petaluma Vale
Petaluma Vale (harpist) and Valerie Thompson (cellist)  
The duo will be performing original “enchanted folk pop” songs about Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood.  Check out Vale’s tunes here.

Co-Hosts: Brad Shur and Phil Berman (local actor)

The Puppet Showplace Slam: Grown-up Fairytales Edition”
Puppet Showplace Theatre
Saturday, September 15, 2012, 8:00pm
Tickets: $15 general; $13 students and PST members