I'm in California again, but this time on vacation. Hooray! Yesterday we headed into Oakland to visit Children's Fairyland, a small theme-park built in 1950 (pre-Disneyland). They house the oldest continuously running puppet theater in the country. It's full of adorably dated rides and sets and wonderfully updated rides and sets. This was the place that I saw my very first puppet show in either 81 or 82. This was also the place the left me terrified of twisty slides for the rest of my life. My shoe got caught in the tower. The dreaded tower of doom. This dreaded tower of doom is the tower to which they send the kids under 4 years of age because they're too little to go down the big-kid dragon slide of not-getting-your-shoe-stuck.
So at one point we had to take the wee one to the wee-wee room & I saw that the side door was open to the puppet theater...a Yoda poster hung on the wall inside (adorable since Frank Oz used to work there). I saw a man eating a hot-pocket (ohhh delicious hot pockets...how I miss your cheese-goo) & I decided to muster my woman-balls and ask if he was the resident puppeteer. Indeed it was puppeteer, Randal Metz. He invited me in and we talked about puppetry and building and marionettes and shows and well..puppetry for a good hour until it was time for him to start the show. We geeked out so hard that Todd & the boy-child had to leave to do less geeky things.
Their audio is all prerecorded, so he invited me to watch the show from backstage if I wanted to. I wanted to. I brought my mom back (she adores puppets) & we watched Pinocchio. It was an interesting thing to watch. His partner for the show had only done the show with him 3 times, so she was fairly fresh. But the idea of having prerecorded dialog and music meant that he could give her instructions during the show without missing a beat. He also carried on a fairly uninterrupted conversation with us during the show without missing things. It's so ingrained.
I've stolen some video from etsy seller, headexplodie, for you. Go buy stuff from her out of guilt for having watched stolen video.
Then we got to play with the puppets. That was good fun! Lewis Mahlmann made the puppets years and years ago (I don't want to be specific because I don't remember exactly, but Randal did tell me) and some of the costumes (in the show) were made by Frances Oznowicz. It was really an awesome theater to visit. And the park is pretty lovely as well. It's getting refurbished and there is fresh paint everywhere! (Even on the boy's shirt...whoopsiedoodle)
We head back into town tomorrow morning, so if you plan on stealing something from my house, now is the time.