‘Tales of Beatrix Potter’ at The Puppet Co. By Julia L. Exline

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FOUR AND A HALF STARS
The Puppet Co. Playhouse presents Tales of Beatrix Potter, a trio of classic stories by Beatrix Potter, performed by Applause Unlimiteds Christopher Hudert.

Director, Puppet Master, and Set Designer Terry Snyder uses a multi-leveled raised platform as a base for the stories. It shows the interior of a old-fashioned nursery, detailed with shelved toys, lacy curtains, and an impressive dollhouse. Later on, the set reveals hidden cutouts, clever hidey-holes, and useful props as the stories unfold. Lighting design by Dan Brooks is well done, including two functional lamps built into the nursery walls, and Christopher Hudert is mic’ed, so he is heard loudly and clearly above the chattering (and, okay, sometimes wails) of small children.

Christopher Hudert lurking in the Foxy Gentleman's house. Photo courtesy of The Puppet Co.

Christopher Hudert lurking in the Foxy Gentleman’s house. Photo courtesy of The Puppet Co.

Hudert performs three of Beatrix’s stories: “The Tale of Two Bad Mice,” “The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher,” and “The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck.” We start with a married mouse couple named Tom Thumb and Hunka Munka, who have a wonderful time destroying a doll named Lucinda’s dollhouse while she is out on a walk with her mistress. Seeing Lucinda’s sadness when she returns, they feel remorseful, and clean up their mess. Jeremy Fisher is a frog that loves to fish—but runs into some trouble on a particular outing. His story is told through a catchy, narrative song.

Lastly, we meet Jemima Puddle-Duck, a good-meaning but dim-witted farm duck who travels into the woods to make a nest for her eggs and meets a charming fox (who has ulterior motives). These stories are short and sweet; just long enough to give your child something exciting to experience without having to endure the embarrassing meltdown that usually occurs when young children are asked to sit in one spot for too long.

Alas, if you are looking for the signature rabbit that Potter is famous for, you will not find it at this production. However, the characters presented are fun and well worth seeing. The children in the audience all had a good time, gasping, clapping, and squealing in all the appropriate places. Hudert stands next to the exit immediately after the show, greeting children and their parents as they leave while holding, in this case, a friendly Jemima Puddle-Duck.

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While this is a show specifically for children, adults will also enjoy the impressive puppetry and well-made hand puppets, as I myself did. Engaging and entertaining, I highly recommend Tales of Beatrix Potter for a fun family outing.

Running Time: 45 minutes, without an intermission.

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Tales of Beatrix Potter plays through February 9, 2014 at The Puppet Co.– 7300 MacArthur Boulevard, in Glen Echo Park, in Glen Echo, MD. For tickets, call (301) 634-5830, or purchase them online.

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