show of hands: court square theater.

Court Square Theater nightI was expecting a different lesson, one about working hard to overcome obstacles and achieve a lifelong dream. After all, Little Bread HenBarefoot Puppet Theater‘s rendition of the old, similarly named story – follows a little red hen’s endeavor to make bread from scratch. Planting and tending the field, cutting down the wheat, doing whatever-is-typically-done to make flour… seems a bit ambitious for a chicken, if you ask me. So I was expecting a lesson about struggle and reward.

But Heidi and Sam Rugg, who operate this outfit, had something else in mind. In a spoiler-free nutshell, Herr Brotmeister and his daughter Maguerite own a bakery in an undisclosed European nation. They have a few hens running around – you know, for eggs – and Marguerite gets particularly attached to one of them, Millie, named for her deceased mother. Business is good.

barefoot puppet 4Then the villains show up: a fox and an older lady who’s got a thing for the widower Brotmeister. Another woman comes in and orders sixty strawberry custard pies for the Strawberry Festival in Paris. A tall order for this tiny operation run by two people and a herd of chickens.

At this point I think, “Wait. Maybe this is about Herr Brotmeister finding new love after the death of his wife! Then again, maybe it IS about overcoming obstacles, what with the pies and all.”

barefoot puppet 2This is what happens when an English teacher attends a puppet show. She tries to pin down the THEME. So I stopped taking notes and decided to just enjoy the show like a kid would. Wasn’t hard.

Herr Brotmeister is so distracted by all these women that he forgets to tell Marguerite about the fox… and Marguerite leaves the gate open… and then gossip spreads through the farm animals like mad cow disease about a dog named Fred and his possible murder… which, of course, causes all the animals to be unwilling to help evil, old Millie make bread, which results in a bread shortage. Ah, consequences. It’s all cause and effect, people.

And so the lesson is a bit less hopeful than my original prediction: If no one helps, everyone gets NOTHING.

barefoot puppet 1The husband and wife proprietors of Barefoot Puppet Theater, Heidi and Sam Rugg, take lots of folktales and add twists and quirks. They also make all their puppets and sets, man all the puppets, each with a different voice, and use props for interactive improv with the audience. It’s really very clever and fun to watch, their antics resulting in squeals and giggles from everyone in the audience, blurring the line between kiddo and grownup. After the performance they were happy to answer everyone’s adorable questions.

barefoot puppetbw 9They’ve been known to perform in major cities up and down the East Coast including Long Island, DC, and Atlanta, and isn’t it nice that we live in a community where awesome entertainment for all ages is just a quick stroll downtown? A quick note to parents: A membership at Court Square Theater is about as vital to your family as your library card and your Kohl’s cash. Court Square Theater members get twenty percent off tickets and FREE popcorn, for the equivalent of about seven bucks a month. Plus you’re helping support the arts in your community. And you can purchase and drink beer and wine in there!! (And of course the usual sodas and other beverages, which I’m admittedly not as excited about.) Now THAT’S family friendly!

Tonight through Sunday you can catch a performance of Valley Playhouse’s Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun. In coming weeks, you’ll find a variety of entertainment, including a dance performance, a craft beer film (yow!!), and concerts like Danny Knicely and Ellis Paul. Time to get that membership!

barefoot puppetbw 3Copyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

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