‘Carnival of the Animals’ at The Puppet Co. by Julia L. Exline

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The Puppet Co. presents Carnival of the Animals, a bilingual narrative (English and Spanish) of a piece of music composed by the great Camille Saint-Saens in 1886. Beautiful music is paired with playful puppets to create a fun and educational experience that you and your child can enjoy together!

The stage is filled with colorful props: a toy chest, a chalkboard, and a rocking horse to create the bedroom of a young boy. Friendly narrator Christian Beltran introduces the crowd to a life-sized puppet named Nicky, an orange-haired boy wearing corduroy pajamas and manned by two cloth-covered puppeteers (Bob Brown and Christopher Piper, who work together beautifully to manipulate the puppets in this production). Nicky decides to play “Carnival of the Animals” on his piano before his nap, during which the musical piece comes to life!

Narrator Christian Beltran and friends in ‘Carnival of the Animals.’ Photo courtesy of The Puppet Co.

The musical score, as well as instruments used, varies throughout the production depending on what animal is onstage. A life-sized, majestic lion is paired with booming, commanding notes, as well as a royal robe fit for the King of the Beasts. Light, fast, and playful music flutters amongst the chickens, and a trilling xylophone accompanies the dancing skeleton of a dinosaur! Beltran does a nice job explaining to the audience (in two languages!) why different instruments are chosen for particular animals.

A kangaroo, two chickens and a bird in ‘Carnival of the Animals.’ Photo courtesy of The Puppet Co.

Lighting Designer Allan Stevens creates a particularly nice moment when the lights are dimmed and the crowd is treated to an interweaving school of fluorescent fish. Many other animal puppets take the stage, like a kangaroo who performs magic tricks, an ice-skating swan, a turtle in a tutu, and a chaotic cat/mouse chase. The puppets, created by Bob Brown and Don Becker, range from adorable to downright beautiful, and are a real joy to watch.

The welcoming and warm atmosphere of The Puppet Co. is always a great bet when planning an afternoon out with your child. This is affordable entertainment at its very best, and the fact that this venue resides in Glen Echo Park (steps away from a glamorous carousel!) just makes it that much better.

Treat your child (and yourself!) to Carnival of the Animals!

Running Time: 40 minutes, with no intermission.

Carnival of the Animals runs through October 7, 2012 at The Puppet Co. in Glen Echo Park – 7300 MacArthur Blvd, in Glen Echo, MD. For tickets, call (301) 634-5380 or order them online.

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