I received tickets to see the puppetry adaptation of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta. When I told people about it, they laughed thinking that I made it up. Apparently not very many people know that there is such a thing as puppetry arts, much less that Atlanta has a center for puppetry arts.
I've driven by the center many times on my way to Atlantic Station and always noticed it but never thought anything of it, so when I got tickets to see the Rudolph show, I really didn't know what to expect.
My first thought was I should totally take my nephew (affectionately called Monkey) who is 2 years old. My sister vetoed that immediately saying it would be during his nap time, and if he misses his nap, he would act all sorts of crazy.
So in lieu of taking Monkey, I substituted our design editor Rachel Goff. We both were pretty excited about it, not knowing what to expect. As soon as we both walked inside the center, we were all smiles and quickly pulled out our iPhones to snap pictures of all the neat stuff they had on display.
It's a center for puppetry arts. It's supposed to be kid-friendly and geared toward all the little children running around and having fun. I don't know why I was concerned that if I brought Monkey he wouldn't behave and act up through the production.
I grew up involved in music my whole life, so I can critique the musical aspect of any production, but theater and stage productions and puppetry arts are certainly out of my realm of knowledge as to what goes on behind the scenes.
Before the show started, two of the six puppeteers came out to tell us that we were welcome to interact with the show as the production was happening: to laugh, sing, applaud, etc.
Rachel and I sat back to enjoy the show, and all throughout the scene changes and projections on the big screen in front of the multiple sets, I kept wondering how do they DO that? Different sizes of each of the puppets were used to portray depth and distance within the scenes, and the narrative never once stopped or had a lull.
I don't know how many times I turned to Rachel with a big grin on my face to say, "That's so neat!"
What especially had me in awe was how many times I would do the math and say six puppeteers equals 12 hands, but definitely the things flying around in front of us require more than 12 hands, so how are they doing this?
After a while, I just stopped trying to figure things out and enjoyed the show. The room was filled with parents and their children and adults sans children too. I'm assuming they're patrons of the center.
The girl to the left of Rachel went from laughing to crying as she was scared every time the huge Abominable Snow Monster made an appearance. The gentleman on the right of me constantly checked his watch every 10 minutes. But Rachel and I were the perfect adult-sized kids because we loved it.
The show ended with Rudolph saving Christmas and everyone in the audience singing "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer." Then all six puppeteers came out to take their bows and explain how they make the puppets come to life. It's a bit like watching the masked magician telling the secrets to the magic tricks, but, still, it's pretty wonderful how it got everyone in the Christmas spirit.
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" runs through Jan. 6.
For more information on the Center for Puppetry Arts or to purchase tickets, visit puppet.org/about/index.shtml.