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.

Welcome Autumn

The calendar says that today is the first day of Autumn, although in Cincinnati it feels like mid-August.  Yuck.  I am not a fan of hot and sticky weather.

Today will also be the final performance of my “Bee Happy” show for 2017.  That is unless I receive a request to perform it again.  Don’t worry if you missed it, we’ll be bringing it back next Spring.  It has been a great show to perform, and marks the first show that I have sang along to music that I have created, through the puppets of course.  I really enjoy singing, although sometimes it’s been a challenge to sing in the puppet’s voice.

Tonight’s performance will be at the Ronald McDonald House in Cincinnati.  I have been donating puppet shows there since the summer of 2012, and enjoy working with their staff.  While my audience is often small, the children and families who I perform for are appreciative.  I love providing them with a half hour of silliness, and help them with the healing process through laughter.

With October around the corner, our newest puppet “Gourdon” is nearing completion.  I began sculpting his head out of clay in June.  My daughter asked me to watch the TV show “Over The Garden Wall” with her.  In one of the episodes there is a village of pumpkin people who I found most interesting.  They reminded me of “Jack Pumpkinhead” from L. Frank Baum’s Oz books. I also enjoy vintage Halloween greeting cards and decorations featuring jack-o-lanterns.   When I returned from our East Coast tour in mid-August I began working on “Gourdon”, using paper mache.  I really enjoyed building our latest cast member.  Please come see him at our October shows.

When “Gourdon” is finished, it’s time to build another traditional hand puppet for our “Frozen Follies” holiday show.  This puppet will be included in our new skit “The Many Names of Santa Claus”.  I will be posting photos to the Wump Mucket Puppets official Facebook page as the building progresses to give our friends and fans a chance to view the puppet building progress.  Please give our page a “like”.  Thanks for reading this. Puppets ROCK!

What a week Wump Mucket Puppets

What a fantastic, puppet rockin’ week it has been!  Wump Mucket Puppets are becoming regular guests in Cincinnati media.  We love all the kind attention that we are getting.  Thank you to the producers, anchors, and editors that have helped me share this adventure in puppetry with their viewers, listeners, and readers.  You ROCK!

We return to WVXU
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Our media “blitz” this past week began with an email from WVXU 91.7 FM, Cincinnati’s NPR affiliate, to invite me to come to their Central Parkway studios and be interviewed to promote our May 9, 2015 performance at Northside’s Art in the Park.  Producer Lee Hay has been very kind to our little puppet troupe, making this our fifth appearance on Around Cincinnati.  Be sure to tune in Sunday April 26, from 7 – 8 pm or listen to their stream.  We had a great time chatting with host Anne Arenstein, plus Reg The Loveland Frog makes his radio singing debut!  Here are a few of Wump Mucket Puppets previous apperances on WVXU to enjoy.

Promoting Cincinnati puppetry on FOX19
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How do you follow up a radio interview?  How about a LIVE morning television segment!  As the president of the Cincinnati Area Puppetry Guild, I am very grateful to the folks at FOX19 to invite myself and our vice president Ryan Moore on as guests.  Anchor Frank Marzullo is fun to talk to.  WXIX has a long history with Cincinnati puppetry, as it was the TV station that our founding guild president Larry Smith helped sign on the air in 1968, and remained one of the top rated shows.  I look forward to future guests spots with Frank and his co-hosts at FOX19.
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Here’s our segment on FOX19 Morning Xtra to enjoy:

Day of Puppetry

As the week drew closer to the Day of Puppetry, my wife Lara and I found the time to get our growing cast of puppets together for a few photos that Cincinnati Magazine has requested for their June 2015 issue to promote Wump Mucket Puppets performance at the Taft Museum of Art on Sunday June 21, 2015.  You must pick up that issue to see our fantastic photo.

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The Day of Puppetry at Happen in Northside was a big hit with all the children and their families who attended.  Thanks to Happen Inc for being our host for three years in a row!  And thank you to puppeteers Ryan Moore and Richard Brown who performed along with me and share the joy of puppetry with our city.