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Puppet Shows/Companies
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Penny Walter of Penny’s Puppet Company showing puppets to kids after showWhat’s to Love: I just saw the “Speakin’ Beacon” puppet show, which was a combined effort from two Portland puppeteers: Penny’s Puppet Productions & The Mudeye Puppet Company. During the show, we met several interesting characters including a lovable rat and a space alien, who transformed to hide his identity into a 3-eared bunny and what appeared to be a talking pickle. The show did a good job of engaging the audience with a fun storyline, humor, and “clap-alongs” to music at several points during the production.

Bruce Orr Mudeye Puppet Company Portland, ORMy wife and son brought me to this show based-on a previous show they had seen a few weeks prior by Penny’s Puppets (The Mystery of the Missing Magic Hat). Now, we are all big fans of Penny’s shows, and this unique combination of efforts by two separate companies, also makes us a fan of Bruce Orr’s Mudeye company. One interesting note about Mudeye, Bruce uses recycled materials to create all his puppets, which I found to be a very nice touch.

Penny Walter’s website says, “Making the world a better place one puppet show at a time,” and I believe it! She has a Master’s Degree in Education from Portland State University with an impressive resume of engaging young children. Please check-out both websites as noted below…

Okay, now that I’ve done the “business” aspect of reporting on this puppet show, I want to tell you what’s best about these puppeteers. After the event, they didn’t just thank the audience and shut-down for the day. Bruce Orr explained how he creates the puppets from recycled materials. Then, both Penny and Bruce invited all the kids to come up and see the puppets, which really sealed-the-deal for me.

My son was up there in a second, and the puppeteers patiently talked with the kids, let them touch the puppets, answered their questions, made jokes, etc. Being a former elementary educator, I thought their rapport with the kids was spot-on. To me, this is what children’s entertainment is all about – going beyond the event and building relationships with the audience. Bravo!

Caveats: The venues vary greatly from show to show. This show was in a bar in the Chinatown area with some interesting seating arrangements. At times, it was hard to hear because the puppeteers didn’t have a person working sound for them. I would recommend getting to their respective shows early, so your kids can get a front-row seat.

Websites: Penny’s Puppet Productions

Mudeye Puppet Company

Distance from Portland: Depends where the show is…

Recommended Ages: I suppose this depends on the show, but the shows attended by our family were targeted at 8 and younger.

Parental Stress Factor: No stress here – if you have an infant and it starts crying, that can be a bit stressful, but otherwise you can just sit back and enjoy.

Physical Difficulty: Performances can be outside during the summer months. For accessibility issues, you may want to contact someone before heading out.

Family Fun Factor: High…who doesn’t love a great puppet show! Plus, there is just enough humor to keep the adults entertained as well.

Pet Friendly: I supposed outdoor shows in parks would probably be okay for well-behaved dogs, but it’s probably a good idea to check before bringing a dog.

Weather Considerations: Shows are both indoors and outdoors. Check before leaving the house.

Speakin’ Beacon Puppet ShowInsider Info: Both these folks are way more than puppeteers – take some time to check-out their websites. Viewing Penny Walter’s website, I see she offers shows for special events and/or birthday parties, elementary schools and special workshops. Bruce Orr’s company shares the same community spirit working with numerous organizations and schools. Bruce has separate website for his artwork, which highlights his murals, comics, paintings, illustrations, etc. I encourage you to checkout this site as well.

Bruce Orr talking with kids after the Speakin’ Beacon Puppet ShowFamily Tips: Arrive early so your kid/s will have a good seat for the show – these are popular events! Shows are not free, so you’ll need to bring cash or check for admission. They usually create a seating area in front on the floor. Parents with infants or younger kids usually hang in the back while their other kids can sit on the floor.

Technorati Tags: Portland puppet companies, portland puppet shows, Penny’s Puppets, Mudeye Puppet Company, puppet shows for kids, Speakin’ Beacon, interactive entertainment for kids

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