Saturday, Feb. 25 was an afternoon filled with laughs and smiles at the Alumni Recital Hall in the Redfern Arts Center.
The animated duo, Chris Monti and Brad Shur, performed their puppet show by using several silhouette-shadowed characters along with their furry chicken friend Henry.
Musician Chris Monti, based in Providence, Rhode Island, performs for children in schools, libraries and hospitals all over New England. Monti has released three records and toured with country-blues artist Paul Geremia.
Puppeteer and The Puppet Showplace Theatre’s Resident Artist Brad Shur also performs original productions across the region using puppets handmade in his workshop made from wood, paper, plastic, foam and fabric.
The show included tall tales from hundreds of years ago sung by Monti, who used harmonicas and acoustics to bring the stories to life.
Among these stories was the tale of Alfred Bulltop Stormalong. Stormalong was a giant sailor from Massachusetts who went sailing across the ocean. “One hundred years on the eastern shore ‘Hiyo,’” the crowd sang along as they traveled the ocean with Stormalong.
When Stormalong ran into the crackin, he decided to give up sailing to become a farmer, only to return to Massachusetts.
Another whimsical tale took place in Cheshire, Massachusetts, as Thomas Jefferson became president. The mayor asked his people (and cows) to round up as much milk as they could. After, they curdle the milk until it becomes real life cheese, which is offered to Chris, who respectfully declined the smelly, aged cheese.
One character who does want the cheese, however, is the bare-bottomed bear, who tried on different clothes the color of the audience’s’ choice.
The crowd was filled with children of all ages and their parents, some of which included Keene State College’s faculty and staff.
Of the faculty who attended the event with their children was the Dean of Professional and Graduate Studies, Dr. Karrie Kalich. Kalich said she is always looking to expose her children to the arts, and the puppet show was a great way to incorporate that into a fun Saturday activity.
“We liked the creativity of the show and how they gave the audience an opportunity to interact with the show,” Kalich said.
Keene local Becca Connolly brought the two kids she babysits to the puppet show as part of their February vacation week activities.
They said their favorite part of the show was watching the mouse puppet eat up all of Chris’ food in his pantry.
After the show, children and parents were invited to participate in a workshop and enjoy refreshments. The workshop gave children the opportunity to express their creative side by making their own puppets.
The Redfern Arts Center Director Shannon Mayers said the Redfern likes to offer family programming like the Puppet Showplace Theatre at least once a year in the season as a fun way to bring the local community to the Redfern.
”We especially love to have the little ones here and that’s why we do shows like Puppet Showplace Theatre, and we always do it during winter break when parents are always looking for somewhere to take their kids to,” Mayers said.
“You don’t see a lot of puppet shows with shadow puppets, so that’s a really cool art that their doing and I think just for the kids to be able to see something like that and to hear music and stories from New England,” Mayers added.
The event was sponsored by the Child Development Center.
Alexandra Enayat can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org