Madcap Puppets presents ‘Twain’s Twisted Tales’

“Madcap Puppets is a fabulous organization and they do quality work. Children love the puppets. There’s something magical about puppets on stage,” said Heidi Schiller, arts and programs manager, Fairfield Parks and Recreation Department.

The production is underwritten through a partnership with ArtsWave, as part of the “ArtsWave Presents” program, she said.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to partner. We have had Madcap Puppets here a number of times. They have been here four or five years, so it’s kind of an annual show that we bring in during the daytime for our younger theater patrons and their parents,” Schiller said.

Sean Mette, booking and social media manager for Madcap Puppets, said the production is Madcap’s newest show.

“The show had its world premiere in March. This is its first official tour. It started touring literally about two weeks ago,” he said.

Mette said the story unfolds as Clara’s ordinary day takes an unexpected twist when Mark Twain’s most beloved characters escape from her book. Putting them back where they belong is going to take help from Mark Twain himself.

“It’s all told with giant puppets,” Mette said. “Audiences seem to really enjoy it. I was a part of the premiere in March and I had the opportunity to perform it several times. There is a common thought that the material of Mark Twain is geared a little bit toward older kids. Our show takes that stigmata off and presents it in a way that all family audiences can be entertained by it.”

“Twain’s Twisted Tales” is a show that Madcap built completely from the ground up, he said.

“We haven’t done any Mark Twain shows previously, so it’s not like we recycled a story from another show. The whole process of creating the show took over a year. Our creative director, Dylan Shelton read a lot of Mark Twain, searching for the right stories that would be most appropriate to our audiences,” Mette said. “We were able to find those stories.”

Stories included in “Twain’s Twisted Tales” are “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” “Legend of Sagenfeld”and selections from “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

The show is geared toward children ages 5 to 12. Initially, Madcap came up with the idea of what they wanted to do with “Twain’s Twisted Tales.” Then, they had to research it and write the script, which went through a series of drafts. About eight months later, Mette said they designed and constructed the puppets.

“We are known for our giant puppets. All of our shows have at least one very large, or giant puppet. We go for height and those puppets could range from seven, eight or nine foot tall. Some of the puppets could take a couple of days to build. With ‘Twain’s Twisted Tales,’ we built a donkey puppet, which the puppeteer operates. That puppet took several weeks to design and build.”

In addition to creating the puppets, Madcap designs the set and casts the actors for each show. Shows are rehearsed for several weeks before they premiere. From start to finish, shows could take a year to a year-and-a-half to create. There are 14 puppets in “Twain’s Twisted Tales.”

“This is upbeat and fun. It really appeals to our audiences,” Mette said.

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