Every once in a while, my family and I veer away from our typical stomping grounds and try something new. Our most recent “something new” was venturing out to see a puppet show at the Columbia Marionette Theatre.
I knew taking my three-year-old out to a live show would be a risk. What if he started crying as soon as the show started? What if he couldn’t sit still for the length of the show? I decided to check my expectations at the door and go in with an open-mind and a willingness to be adventurous, whatever the outcome.
We pulled in about 15 minutes prior to the Monday morning showing to an empty parking lot. Concerned I had the wrong time, I double-checked their website to make sure that they do indeed have a show every third Monday. Confident I had the right place and time, we headed into the venue. Getting there a little early gave us plenty of time to explore the quaint and whimsical theatre, purchase tickets and popcorn, and choose our seats. There was bench style seating with the first couple rows reserved for kids. We chose an aisle seat close to the back for an easy escape route just in case.
To my surprise, for a Monday morning, more and more people continued pouring in. From families with small children, to school aged kids, to retirees, the venue began filling up. I wondered how long my currently calm and content child, already halfway through his popcorn, would last. The show start time was delayed as the main puppeteer was also the person working the popcorn stand. He was still busy catering to a line of people patiently waiting for their bag of salty-buttery goodness.
By the time the show began, with my toddler wanting no seat other than my lap, I wasn’t sure which would give out sooner, my left leg, which was entering the pins-and-needles phase of falling asleep, or my child’s currently content mood. As the lights dimmed and curtains opened, I held my breath as the puppet production of Aladdin began.
The puppets were life-like marionettes operated by puppeteers hidden above the stage. To my pleasant astonishment, my child was immediately captivated. He sat in awe during the entire show. Even though he was not yet familiar with the story of Aladdin he followed much of the story line. He was most mesmerized by the Tiger, Rajah, who he begged to appear in each scene.
The show lasted about an hour, and watching the awe and exhilaration on my son’s face was well worth the temporary numbness of my left leg. Witnessing the joy in my son also served a friendly reminder that it is worth it to get out of my comfort zone and try something new.
After the show, one of the main puppeteers answered questions from the audience and discussed the behind-the-scenes happenings. They also brought out trunks filled with marionettes for the kids to play with. Manipulating all the lifelike actions of a puppet through a set of strings is much harder than it looks! They also had a build-your-own puppet station for the kids. My son was too young and distracted by the puppets to participate, but it was definitely a hit for the older children.
Once the audience cleared the venue and the seats were empty, my son ran back to his spot on the bench to stare at the closed curtain wishing for the show to start again. It was one of the most endearing moments of the whole outing. Nearly a month later he continues to ask to go see the puppet show. And I can honestly tell him, “We will go back soon.”