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.

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!

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.

Puppets on CET Cincinnati PBS TV!

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Wump Mucket Puppets are very proud to be a part of the 2017 season premiere of The Art Show on CET Public Television  Cincinnati’s PBS TV station.  Here is the entire program, we are the first segment.  Thanks to producer Don Hancock and his entire production team for producing such a wonderful program that feature artists.  Please help support your local PBS station if you are able.

The entire production process was nothing short of fantastic, everyone involved are among the best in their fields.  I also wish to thank the staff of The Taft Museum for all of their help while the television crew shot my performance for use in the program.

Thanks for watching everyone.

Summer 2016 is here!

Summer 2016 is here!

Our summer touring season is off to a great start with an amazing week of shows, two live television appearances, a radio interview, and a FULL PAGE newspaper article!

Here’s a recap of the last week:

June 3, 2016 – Wump Mucket Puppets made their third guest appearance on WCPO TV.  Anchor Chris Riva was great to chat with.  Thanks to all our pals at WCPO for helping me promote the short film “A Show of Hands”.
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Behind the scenes:  This was Jacqui the Jackalope’s television debut.  Minutes before stepping in front of the cameras, her left antler popped off.  I tried to get it to stay on her head with a bit of Scotch tape…  which didn’t work very well.  Watch it wobble on live TV for thousands of viewers:

June 5, 2016 – Wump Mucket Puppets are on the radio!   WVXU has been a great supporter of our little puppet troupe, here’s our latest interview on the Around Cincinnati program:  CLICK HERE TO LISTEN photo WMP at WVXU June 2016_zpseuxhqrva.jpg

Behind the scenes:  This radio interview was recorded in early May, and broadcast on June 5th. 

June 6, 2016 – Our media parade continued into print with our very first feature article in the Cincinnati Enquirer written by Garin Pirnia.
 photo WMP in Enquirer June 2016_zpsbobqyyo8.jpg A link to read this article will be posted soon.  Thank you to Garin for the help in promoting the screening of “A Show of Hands” and for telling the story of my journey as a puppeteer.

June 7, 2016 – All of the media attention would be for nothing if there wasn’t something to promote, and boy did we have that covered.   Our first library show of the season was at the Carroll County Public Library, where the puppets were welcomed by many smiling, laughing children and their parents.
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Our silly caveman Unka Unka won the hearts of the audience with his crazy attempt to build a sand castle.  He was such a hit, that many children were heard imitating him in the library after the show!  “Unka say Shhhh”.  Here’s a photo of Unka Unka meeting a new fan after the show.
 photo WMP at Carrollton KY June 2016_zpsly2kbq7y.jpgWhen our show was finished, I packed up to drive back to Cincinnati and prepare for the Cincinnati premiere of the short documentary film “A Show of Hands”.  The film screening was attended by family, friends, and fans at the Northside branch library.  Here’s a fantastic drawing that author/illustrator Mark Neeley drew to celebrate the screening:

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Following the film, our audience was treated to pizza donated by our favorite Northside pizza shop, N.Y.P.D. Pizza.  We then held a questions and answers session with myself and the film’s director Sean W. Mangan.  Puppeteer friend Linda Mason took this photo from the audience that includes Terrence Burke, Coleman the Sasquatch, Tiernan Burke, and Sean W. Mangan:
 photo 13407684_1189555544389320_1530215516_n_zps14lpe7ax.jpgJune 8, 2016 – Wednesday morning it was back to a TV studio for Coleman and Jacqui, as we made another live television appearance on WXIX FOX 19
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FOX 19 holds a special place in my heart, as they were the very first television station to invite me on as a guest years ago.  The producers and anchors have always been helpful and as you can see in this fun segment with Catherine Bodak, love our puppet characters:

June 9, 2016 –  With the media appearances completed (until next month!) it was back on the road for our mighty little puppet troupe.  Thursday we made our debut at the Gallatin County Public Library in Warsaw, Kentucky.   The audience was fantastic and loved our silliness!

Behind the scenes:  As I began to pack up the puppets after the show, a young boy and his mother approached me.  Apparently the mom had mixed up the showtime, and her son really wanted to see us.  Well, this young man didn’t go home disappointed…   Cyril and Coleman sang our theme tune for him, cracked a few corny jokes, and then took him on a backstage tour!  They also made sure he had coloring pages, a couple stickers, AND an autographed postcard to take home!

June 10, 2016 – We love meeting new pals, and the state of Kentucky appears to be full of new Wump Mucket Puppets fans!  On Friday we returned to Carroll County to perform for a very lively audience at the Sanders Baptist Church in Sanders, KY.   One of our new fans was so impressed with the show that she wrote a quick review directly after the performance:
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The note reads “Good job”  Coleman really appreciated the note, and enjoyed meeting his new pals after the show.

With the first week  of shows completed, I look forward to entertaining and meeting even more new pals on our travels as the Wump Mucket Puppets rock Summer 2016!

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.

 

Wump Mucket Puppets first PSA is here!

Wump Mucket Puppets first PSA is here!

Recycling with Mayor Cranley from CitiCable on Vimeo.

The wait is over!  Wump Mucket Puppets first PSA is here!

The first of five public service announcements (PSA) that were produced by staff and students of Cincinnati State College for the City of Cincinnati Public Services department is ready for your viewing pleasure.
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It was a fantastic experience to work with the crew, and help Cincinnati’s Public Services department encourage the citizens of our city to recycle in a fun way.  Cyril got a chuckle of seeing himself in a video with Mayor John Cranley. 

Be sure to recycle no matter where you live to help keep our planet green and clean.

Puppet Rockin’ in the Queen City Day 5

Wump Mucket Puppets on location in Clifton, Cincinnati, Ohio

Puppet Rockin’ in the Queen City Day 5

November 12, 2014 – At last, our schedules and weather synchronized to allow the cast and crew an afternoon to shoot the fifth and final PSA for the City of Cincinnati Department of Public Services.  Had we really been working on these for a little over a month?  Somehow the entire production seemed to fly by!
 photo 006_zps752ee1d8.jpg For the final shoot we found ourselves in the Clifton neighborhood of Cincinnati.  It was a quick commute from the Wump Mucket Puppets headquarters in Northside.  The puppets cast in this spot were Cyril and his alien buddy G’Wazzl.   How was I going to have two of my puppets in a scene?  This was made possible with lots of help from Amanda Checco and Beth Dickerson, who “puppet wrangled” G’Wazzl in the background while I performed Cyril.  I think they had fun, just look at their smiles!
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In the PSA Cyril meets his neighbor Mark Bertram, who has just discovered that someone left their UFO in his trash pile along the curb.  Mark and Cyril then explain to the viewers how to have their waste picked up, even alien spacecraft!  There will be a surprise ending that you will have to wait for.  I promise you this, it’s OUT OF THIS WORLD!
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After shooting the scene featuring Mark and Cyril, I had to switch puppets and perform G’Wazzl to deliver his lines.  I was really impressed with the UFO prop that was made for this production, even G’Waz wanted to take it for a spin around the block.  And then, with the shout “that’s a wrap!”, we were finished.  The Wump Mucket Puppets are soon to be that puppet stars of five different television PSAs for the City of Cincinnati’s Department of Public Services.

What started as an email from Gerald Checco back in July will soon deliver important messages, in a fun way, to the citizens of our city.  It was a fantastic experience for me.  Thanks to:  Gerald Checco, for reconnecting with me (we were on the radio together in back the 1980s) and for choosing my puppets to share his department’s messages.  Ann Newsom, for her kind words of encouragement and use of her blanket while puppeteering on the sidewalk.  Paul Grundy, for keeping this entire production team together, while schedules and weather had other plans.  Bobby Gayol, who’s laughter to my puppet’s silliness only made me want to be sillier. I also enjoyed our chit-chat about Cincinnati rock scene from years ago.  Zo Wesson, a great fan of puppetry who knew what to ask the puppets to do, and inspired their puppeteer to rock even harder.  Beth Dickerson, for being such a kind wrangler of G’Wazzl and very helpful during the recording of our voice-overs.  Anastasia, Cory (I apologize for not remembering your last names), for helping Cyril get his cape on and for helping me take my mic off.  Of course we must give shout outs to all our co-stars; John Ervin, Markeesha, Ed Grant, Ann, Marcus Potter, Mayor John Cranley, and Mark Bertram!  You were fantastic!

So what’s next?  Paul Grundy has told me that once the five PSAs are edited and approved, we may be presenting them at a Cincinnati city council meeting in early 2015!  I wonder if I can convince Coleman to wear his tuxedo? 

Eventually the PSAs will be provided to Cincinnati television stations and social media, to help inform the public about the new rules and changes to trash collection in Cincinnati.  I had a great time working with everyone involved with this production, and hope that you had fun working with me and my cast of zany puppet characters too.  It is my dream that the Wump Mucket Puppets will be cast in future television productions or advertisements, after all…puppets ROCK!
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Puppet Rockin’ in the Queen City Day 4

Puppet Rockin’ in the Queen City Day 4

November 3, 2014 – We neared the end of the production, with all but one of the televisions spots recorded.  It was time to re-record my puppet character’s dialog in the recording studio.  Although I was using a microphone on the shoots, the audio recorded was for reference, a “scratch-track” in you will.  I was happy to spend some time in the studio at Cincinnati State College.   This is the dialog that will be heard in TV spots.

Terrence Burke voicing his puppet characters in the recording studio at Cincinnati State College.

It had been many years since I was behind a microphone in a recording studio.  Long before puppetry was my creative focus, I was the producer and host of a radio program called “Doctor 13’s Audio Lab” on WAIF-FM in Cincinnati.  The funny thing was, as soon as I put on the headphones and stepped behind the mic, I was read for my puppet’s voices to rock!  Sort of like riding a bike I guess.

Now some of you may wonder, do I need the puppets on my hands to be in character?  NOPE!  These characters are very much a part of my imagination and can be called upon at my will.  Cyril did make the bus trip to the studio with me, but only to make certain that I behaved myself.

I do plan to bring the Wump Mucket Puppets into a recording studio one day, to record all of my original tunes that are heard in our puppet shows.  That should be fun!

Here’s a peek inside the studio as I record the dialog for Cyril and Coleman:

I have often told people that I consider my puppetry “live action cartoons”, and feel that their are a number of similarities in the two art forms.  Let’s see…  Funny looking characters?  Yup.  Exaggerated  voices?  Got ’em.  Silly songs?  We sing many.  Overall zaniness?  With some to spare!  Need I go on?  These thoughts go back to my childhood in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when I was soaking in as much Saturday morning TV as my young brain could handle.  I was interested in three things back then:  Puppets, cartoons, comics.  I remember asking my mother how cartoons are made.  She explained that a cartoon was a series of drawings that were filmed, and when projected very fast created the illusion that the cartoon character was moving.  I made a few flip-books and became discouraged that an animation studio was out of the financial means of a imaginative seven year-old boy.  By that time I had a good idea how to put on a puppet show for my family. I could do almost everything with a puppet that a cartoon character could do, and perform live!  It was probably around this time in my life that my future was set.  A creative spark had started a fire inside me, my life would eventually lead to puppetry.

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Cyril checks in on his puppeteer during the recording session.

During the session I recorded all of the puppet’s dialog within several takes.  Getting into “voice” wasn’t the trouble.  It was my fumbling a couple words that needed to be fixed.  For some reason “mayor” was sounding like “mEyer”.  No trouble, it’s all digital now!  All fixed.  I am sure that great voice actors have some great out takes and friendly pranks in their careers.  Being the playful guy I am, I hid beneath the music stand while the folks behind the glass window attended to something.  I then brought Cyril up to the mic to announce, “Burke stepped out.  I’ll be doing all the work now!”.  This got a few laughs from the control room, which was what I was going for.

Silly voices.  Puppets.  Fun.  Our recording session was done.  The Wump Mucket Puppets ROCKED the mic!

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