Roanoke Times Review

Photo by Jared Soares-The Roanoke Times

Tiny theatergoers excited: No ‘Bull’

Thistledown Puppets’ ‘Bull: A Puppet Musical’ wowed the young set at the Dumas Center as part of the Roanoke City Arts Festival.

“Mom, Mom, can we get front-row seats?” asked the tiny brunette in the gray-and-black striped shirt as her even tinier brother (the one wearing the excited grins nearly too big for his body) ran ahead, clutching his ticket in his left hand.

Luckily for those two little theatergoers, the seats were not assigned at Sunday’s performance of “Bull: A Puppet Musical” at the Dumas Center for Artistic & Cultural Development in Roanoke. There were front-row seats available– but not for long.

As showtime edged closer, the 180-seat auditorium at the Dumas Center was getting crowded. From infants in strollers to grandparents in wheelchairs, there were more than 100 excited people watching.

The one-hour show was performed both Saturday and Sunday by Thistledown Puppets, a *Salem-based puppet company that was performing as part of the Roanoke Arts Festival.

The wonderfully crafted puppets were maneuvered by four puppeteers dressed in black from head to toe in a method called overt puppetry. The actors were not hidden behind a stage; they were right there in plain sight for all to see, a la “Avenue Q,” a popular Broadway puppet show for grown-ups.

The play centered around Bull, Lucky Clucky the Rooster, Ewe and Pig. Bull wanted nothing more than to be free of the farm and out in the city — a place he’d visited once as a calf.

The puppets were entertaining, but some of the younger members of the audience lost interest after the first 30 minutes or so — with intermittent bursts of laughter breaking the quiet chatter.

That being said, when the audience was invited to the stage to meet the puppets, nary a child declined the chance to shake Pig’s hand.

For more information, go to thistledownpuppets.com.

— Jennie Tal

*(The only mistake in the article is that we are a Roanoke based company, not Salem.  Otherwise, great review.  Thanks Jennie!)

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