Bucket Gulch or BUST!

Bucket Gulch or BUST!

Bucket Gulch or BUST!  Wump Mucket Puppets western-themed puppet show Tales from Bucket Gulch is ready to hit the road, with the cast members very excited to be performing a new show for our fans this summer.  We are thrilled to be featuring a new puppet star too, Sarsaparilla the Cow!  The show opens with a lively tune and a tall tale about biscuits told by Miss Jacqui the Jackalope.  Next Unka Unka and Kitty will be digging for gold.  What will he find?  This is followed by the story of The Cow Who Wouldn’t MOO, starring Coleman, Reg, and Sarsaparilla.  There’s even a funky dance break for everyone to dance too!

Sassy, as we like to call her, recorded an interview with fellow cast member Coleman the Sasquatch at Cincinnati’s NPR radio station 97.1 WVXU last week.  Be sure to listen to it on the “Around Cincinnati” program, Sunday June 3rd at 7 PM.  We think that you will get a kick out of this radio interview, it was LOTS of FUN to record with host Jim Stump.  Listen to the program online at: WVXU.org

Our puppets will be on TV too!  Be sure to watch Coleman, Sassy, and their puppeteer Terrence Burke, as studio guests on Good Morning Cincinnati at Local 12 WKRC TV.  We’ll be LIVE on Tuesday June 5th at 9:40 AM.  Watch the fun as we chat and MOO about our performances at local libraries in June.  These appearances are always exciting, with Sassy looking forward to be making her Cincinnati live television debut.  Don’t miss it!  You can watch online at: Local12.com/watch

Be sure to come and see Wump Mucket Puppets this summer.  We have many FREE shows to attend throughout Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, even New England!  Tales from Bucket Gulch is a great family show, perfect for children ages 3-10 and the young at heart too!  Our complete tour schedule can be found right here.

Be sure to get one of our new coloring pages drawn by artist Lara Rumizen.  These are only available at the puppet shows.  When you have colored it in, please share your art with us on the official Wump Mucket Puppets Facebook page.

See ya at the puppet show buckaroos!  Bucket Gulch or BUST!

Bee Happy at Rockdale Academy

Bee Happy at Rockdale Academy

Wump Mucket Puppets had a great time performing our Bee Happy puppet show at Rockdale Academy, which is an elementary school within the Cincinnati Public Schools system.  Our show was part of the school’s Global Conservation Day.

I wrote “Bee Happy” during the Winter/Spring of 2017, to perform it throughout the Summer at libraries, schools, and special events.  I was inspired by my mother, who is retired and keeps bees at her home in New Hampshire.  While speaking with her on the phone, we agreed that children are often afraid of bees, and should learn more about how they are very important to our world.

I cast our super space princess G’Wizzl (see above photo) in the featured story, having her land on Earth to meet a worker bee who tells her how helpful bees are, she is then invited back to the bee hive to meet Q.B. the Queen Bee.  During the later part of the story, G’Wizzl invites the audience to stand up to do a bee dance with her.  It was a better idea to have the 250+ students stay seated, and “dance along” by clapping and moving along to my electronic “bee music”.  The children were fantastic “bee dancers”.

I am very pleased that the show fit in with the school’s curriculum “BEE-utifully”.  Both the faculty and students told me how much they enjoyed the show.  This is very pleasing for me to hear, because it means that my puppetry is both entertaining and educational.  This was my second time performing for the Cincinnati Public Schools this year, and based upon this experience, I am looking forward to “buzzing” this fun puppet show throughout the school system and beyond.

What is a little ironic, is that I was terrified of bees as a boy.  Now I am helping educate children about the many benefits of bees, how they help us, and how we can help them.  

To close out this blog post, I wish to quote my original song that G’Wizzl sings towards the end of the show, “Be happy let your smile shine!”

The Aftab Pureval Duck flies again

The Aftab Pureval Duck flies again

I had the pleasure to shoot another as the puppeteer of The Duck in a video with Hamilton County Clerk of Courts, Aftab Pureval.  He is running for US Congress in 2018.  This will be the second time in almost two years that I have voiced and puppeteered The Duck for  campaign videos for Aftab.  Here is a link to the other videos that I perform The Duck:  CLICK HERE TO WATCH

While it may seem easy, providing the character voice and holding the puppet up into frame for the camera to see, requires me to hide myself behind Aftab while keeping The Duck puppet steady and in the shot.

You may be wondering where The Duck puppet came from.  The puppet was purchased by Aftab’s campain staff a couple years ago when he was running for Hamilton County Clerk of Courts (He WON!).  It was created by puppet builder Steve Axtell of Axtell Expressions.

This particular shoot was made on location at a private residence in Downtown Cincinnati.  Many thanks to the camera crew, and Aftab’s campaign manager Sarah Topy for having me back as The Duck’s puppeteer. I will be certain to share the video when it is posted online.  Best wishes AFTAB!

Rest in Peace Larry Smith

Rest in Peace Larry Smith

I wish to share my thoughts about the passing of Cincinnati puppetry legend Larry Smith.

So many children grew up in Cincinnati loving his numerous TV shows and live performances. I regret that I don’t share their memories, watching his signature characters Hattie the Witch, Snarfie R. Dog, and Teaser the Mouse, to mention only a few. I am sure that I would have loved his shows.

When I was getting my puppet act together in the early 2000s, I was welcomed with open arms by the Cincinnati Area Puppetry Guild, which Larry founded in the 1970s. I met him at various guild meetings and events, and would sometimes bump into him around Cincinnati. As I think about him today, I really wished that I got to know him better.

Several years ago, while I was performing in Downtown Cincinnati, a man in his 60s approached me from the audience after my show with a big smile on his face. He looked at me to say, “Man! You are Larry Smith!”. I consider this as a very kind complement, as Larry spent most of his adult life performing puppets.

Rest in Peace Larry Smith. You made children happy by bringing joy and laughter to Cincinnati.

PBS TV here come Wump Mucket Puppets

PBS TV here come Wump Mucket Puppets

We have been informed that our guest segment on “The Art Show” has been picked up for national distribution on PBS television stations in major markets.

In late summer 2016 two TV crews interviewed me for the segment that was included in the CET public television program The Art ShowCLICK HERE TO WATCH

I am not certain at this time when and where the guest segment will air around the country at this time.  As soon as more info is available, I will be sure to share it.  Many thanks to CET TV producer Don Hancock (who has a few Emmy Awards with his name on them) for letting me know this exciting news.

Valentine’s Day Special Offer

Valentine’s Day Special Offer

Wump Mucket Puppets  our clients! We are having a Valentine’s Day Special Offer SAVE $25 when you book two of our kid-pleasing puppet shows. Book one of our shows to be performed in 2018 and receive a $25 DISCOUNT on our Halloween or Christmas shows, performed in October or December 2018.

This offer is good for shows booked in February 2018.  Travel fee additional , a total will be quoted when booking a show.

It’s a great way to bring quality arts programs to your school, library, daycare center, or special event. Have a question? Call or text Terrence Burke at 513-370-9803 or through our website contact form CLICK HERE

Encore broadcast of our PBS TV debut

Encore broadcast of our PBS TV debut

Wump Mucket Puppets creator Terrence Burke

Did you miss seeing Wump Mucket Puppets on Cincinnati’s PBS television station WCET TV 48 back in January 2017? 

Don’t touch that dial!  There will be an encore broadcast of our PBS TV debut on The Art Show,  Saturday, December 16 at 6PM on CET HD, and once again on Sunday, December 17 at 8PM on CET Arts.

Live outside of the Cincinnati area?  Busy on those nights?  No worries, you can watch the entire show online at anytime here:
http://www.pbs.org/video/art-show-season-6-episode-1/

Wump Mucket Puppets performing at CET PBS television station

Wump Mucket Puppets performing for the CET Kids Klub event in 2014.

Working with the production crew from CET was a fantastic experience for me.  Everyone was great during the two day shoot, and worked hard to make my puppets look wonderful on camera.   I encourage you to show your support of their work, and all PBS productions, by making a pledge of support to CET or your local PBS television station if you are able.

Wump Mucket Puppets photo collage

Original photo collage made to promote the January 7, 2017 broadcast of The Art Show.

After you watch the show, leave a brief message on the Wump Mucket Puppets official Facebook page , and let us know what you thought of our guest appearance.  We love to hear from our friends and fans.  Who knows, maybe one of these days,  Wump Mucket Puppets may have their very own television program! 
Thanks for watching everyone!

Giving thanks in 2017

Giving thanks in 2017

Wump Mucket Puppets - A Puppet Rocker's Blog

It is the Sunday after Thanksgiving 2017 as I write this blog.  Coffee has been made, my children are still sleeping, and our new cat Piper has been fed (more on her in a bit).  2017 has been another year of growth for myself and Wump Mucket Puppets.  

Look at the SMILES! @fallfeastcincinnati #Thanksgiving #FallFeast #Cincinnati #puppeteer #shareJOY

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My puppets have performed for so many people this year, including our fourth year at Fall Feast Cincinnati on Thanksgiving Day.  It was during these performances that I began to think how fortunate I am to be a puppeteer in the age of instant digital entertainment.  It takes time, including many late nights, some frustration (especially with using computers), and lots of hard work to get to where I am now.  What the audience sees onstage is thirty minutes of fun, that has taken many, many weeks of puppet building, script and song writing, and prop building/painting.  And I love every step of producing a puppet show. It thrills me that my audience is enjoying it too.  I am thankful for having the opportunity to perform for so many children.

Our pal Alex loved Q.B. at @fallfeastcincinnati #Thanksgiving #FallFeast #Cincinnati #puppeteer #shareJOY

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So why do I puppeteer?  Why spend weeks working on a puppet that will be performing for only five minutes in a show?  Why do I drive hundreds and hundreds of miles around the country to reach my audience?  The answer is one word, LOVE.  I love what I do.  I love to hear children laugh and clap when my characters perform.  I love having a parent tell me that their child sings my silly songs at home.  I love when my son helps me set up the stage and sound equipment, or when my daughter gives me feedback on a puppet design or song idea.  I love sharing joy through puppetry.

And speaking of love, we have a new family member, our family adopted Piper this past week.  She came to us through Cincinnati Cats, she is eight years old and blind.  Piper has won our hearts with her charm and cuddling.  

Meet Piper, our new family member. She is eight years old and blind. #adoptedcat #blindcat #cat

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Everyday is Halloween for us in October

Everyday is Halloween for us in October

I love performing The Kooky Spooky Halloween Show for our audiences.  2017 is the second year that the puppets have brought our special brand of Halloween kookiness to our pals.  We are very grateful that they enjoy our spooky silliness.

For me, Halloween should be a fun time for children (and adults).  Offering us time to  celebrate and make believe together, minus terrifying images or horrific creatures.  Sadly there’s plenty of horror in the real world.  Today’s audience at Our Daily Bread was just that, people having a fun time together with a bit of spooky silliness.

Since opening the show at the Behringer-Crawford Museum in Covington, KY, we have performed to hundreds of happy kids that totally understand my style of make-believe.  They have giggled at Unka Unka’s mistakes on holiday greetings (and helped him out), assisted Witch Willie cast her scaring spell (which never seems to work), and told me that they love our new puppet character Gourdon the pumpkin man. 

Gourdon and Witch Willie have even found the time in their busy puppet star schedules to make their world radio debut on Cincinnati’s NPR affiliate 91.7 WVXU ‘s weekend arts program “Around Cincinnati” with a great interview conducted by media journalist John Kieswetter.  This was fun interview to record.  John had great questions for me, and it gave me a chance to talk about the show, our new puppet, and growing up in Andover, Massachusetts.  Enough babbling from me, why not just give it a listen?
Listen to the interview HERE                                    (Photo by John Kieswetter)

No matter how you celebrate Halloween, I hope that you and your family have a fun and safe one.  If you should happen to have children in your life, be sure to bring them to my puppet show.  

Here’s Gourdon! Our new puppet star!

Our newest puppet star has arrived!  Gourdon has joined the cast of “The Kooky Spooky Halloween Show” that we perform throughout October.  Here’s a look back on how this puppet went from a lump of clay, to a paper maché head, and almost making his public debut on live TV, yet to being interviewed for a weekly radio program.

The idea to create a pumpkin headed puppet popped into my head earlier this year when my daughter Eleanor asked me to watch the cartoon “Over The Garden Wall”. In one of the episodes, the two boys visit a village of pumpkin people. They reminded me of the character Jack Pumpkinhead from the Oz series of books written by L. Frank Baum.

So I began sculpting a new puppet…

The new puppet had to wait to be worked on as I toured our “Bee Happy” summer puppet show around Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and even a trip to Massachusetts in August.

Gradually the clay began to “magically” work it’s self into a friendly face that children would enjoy.  I love Halloween, and find the vintage greeting cards that feature pumpkins, witches, and ghosts most visually appealing.  I started looking at lots of great pictures, and added them to a Halloween themed Pinterest page.

Gourdon’s head is made of paper maché, and took me about a two days to build.  I lost count of how many tiny bits of paper it took.  I enjoy this part of the puppet building process, since I can listen to music while working.  I remember listening to Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles, They Might Be Giants, Gary Numan and Led Zeppelin while building this puppet.  There is a reason why I always say, “Puppets ROCK!”.

The build was moving along at a good pace.  Things were looking great as I finished the head, and Gourdon started really looking like Gourdon.  I was very happy with our new puppet star, and prepared to sew his body and costume together.  I was booked to make a live TV guest appearance and wanted this to be  his public debut.

Then a bit of a “hick-up” happened after I had finished sewing his inner sleeve and body.  While quickly trying to get the puppet completed for the TV segment, I goofed up and used the wrong pattern on his costume.  It was too small.  I was rather upset, since this puppet has been my project.  In the past, my wife Lara has been the principle puppet builder.  She took a step back to allow me to be more comfortable with sewing, and give me room to learn.  Ugh.  Gordon would not be going on TV.

Fortunately we have a great cast of puppets to “step up” and take Gourdon’s place for the TV interview.  Witch Willie was the best puppet to replace Gourdon.  I have been performing her for over a year, and through the summer, so off to FOX19 she went to make her third live TV appearance:

With this scheduling problem solved, Lara whipped together a fantastic costume for Gourdon to wear for his puppet stage debut at the Behringer-Crawford Museum.  I could hear the children in our audience react to Gourdon as he welcomed them to our show, they love him.  After the show they were thrilled to meet him, with several of the kids requesting to have their photo taken with our new puppet star.

The day’s adventure in puppetry was not over.   After I finished loading-out of the museum, I had to drive back to Wump Mucket Puppets headquarters to unload our  gear, only to head back out to have Witch Willie, Gourdon, and myself record a radio interview on WVXU, Cincinnati’s NPR radio affiliate.

Tune in to Around Cincinnati next week to listen.  WVXU’s John Kieswetter had many great questions for the puppets and myself, making what I am sure will be the fun radio debut of a pumpkin head puppet named Gourdon.