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‘Rapunzel’ at The Puppet Company

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The Puppet Company Playhouse presents Rapunzel, a re-imagining of the classic fairy tale through the use of puppetry. Directed by Allan Stevens and written by Duane T. Bowers, this adaptation more closely favors The Brothers Grimm version of the tale, bringing a fresh perspective of the story to a new generation.

Christopher Piper with Rapunzel, her Prince, and Witch Wartsmith (on top). Photo courtesy of The Puppet Co.

Christopher Piper with Rapunzel, her Prince, and Witch Wartsmith (on top). Photo courtesy of The Puppet Co.

Allan Stevens’ set design resembles that of a brightly filled-in coloring book, with a purple stage framed by rapunzels, the type of radish that Rapunzel is named for. Inside the frame, a sweet cottage made up of cobblestones and a thatched straw roof sits next to a high stone wall, on which the other side lays a fruitful garden full of rapunzel. Rolling green hills and fields are seen in the distance, as well as the dark shape of an ominous tower. The set transforms as the plot grows, adding backdrops like prickly briar patches and a green-tinted tower. Overall, it is a handsome, well-rounded set.

Christopher Piper, the solo performer for the show, chats with the children in the audience before the show begins and explains that “Rapunzel” is actually named after (gasp!) a vegetable. The children settle in for a show that portrays one of their favorite characters in a different light, as Piper uses hand puppets (beautifully crafted by Puppetmaster Allan Stevens) to tell a story about an elderly couple who are tricked by a witch into giving her their only child, who is then hidden away in a tower until she is noticed by a wandering prince. In an unexpected twist the character of Witch Wortsmith is seen in a more forgiving light. Described as a “wishy-washy witch” by Piper, her intentions are honorable, but come from a selfish place. In this, we are able to see that characters can be much more complex than just “good” or “evil.”

Many children’s theatres put on classic, beloved productions such as this one, but The Puppet Company makes Rapunzel their own by using a lesser-known version, while introducing children to the world of puppetry. For the most part, the children really seemed to enjoy themselves! A fun, affordable afternoon of entertainment with your family can be found at The Puppet Company’s production of Rapunzel!

Running Time: 40 minutes, without an intermission.

Rapunzel plays through October 12, 2014 at The Puppet Company Playhouse in Glen Echo Park—7300 MacArhur Boulevard, in Glen Echo, MD. For tickets, call (301) 634-5380,or order them online.

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