Fond as I am of the racy Broadway musical “Avenue Q,” I know most parents would feel more comfortable with a puppet show set on “Avenue G” — a place where the Internet is for puppies rather than porn, and puppets drink apple juice instead of Long Island iced tea.
So I went in search of puppet shows that are perfectly suitable for children, and found several options for Valley families…
Theater Works’ Puppet Works presents a new play titled “Christopher Michael Who Wouldn’t Recycle” by Jeremiah Clay Neil and Louis Farber.
The work, designed for ages 3-6, combines music, poetry and puppetry to tell the story of a boy who “learns the value of recycling from a magical time traveling Recyclerbot named Rocky.”
“Christopher Michael Who Wouldn’t Recycle” opens Sat, March 19 at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts. It’s a 35 minute show that’s followed by a talk back with puppeteers about recycling, the puppets and the art of puppeteering.
The Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix performs “Rumpelstiltskin” through April 3 — then opens “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” on April 6 and “The Monkey & The Pirate” on April 27.
They’ll perform “Canyon Condor” at the Higley Center for the Performing Arts April 28-30, and open “The Three Little Pigs” back at their own puppet theater on May 11.
An online study guide for “The Three Little Pigs” is already available online. It features information about the Great Arizona Puppet Theater, the show and the puppets — and notes ways the show relates to various arts standards for Arizona schools.
The study guide suggests pre- and post-show activities that parents or teachers can share with students, but my favorite part by far is the page students (or whimsical grown-ups) can use for coloring or making their own rod puppets.
One of my best investments as a young parent was a sturdy stand-up puppet theater my children often used to create and stage their own shows. I’ve long been a believer in the power of puppetry to fuel imagination, language skills, creativity, social skills and more.
Keep an eye out for puppet shows at local children’s museums, libraries, bookstores and community centers — as well as the venues noted above. Think puppet shows for playdates and birthday parties, and keep simple craft supplies for making puppets on hand for rainy or sick days.
Who knows — maybe puppets can even make the world a more playful, and more peaceful, place.
Note: The Great Arizona Puppet Theater also performs adult only “puppet slams.” Theater Works also offers theater productions for adults and youth.
Coming up: Opera everywhere!