Q & A
A brief explanation of common questions asked of PuppetWorks
caution: some of the following info may destroy the puppet world illusion
"(at the end of the show,
the puppeteers come out with some of their puppet cast to meet and greet
the audience) Who animates (character) during the show?"
Well, first one of the main theories we keep for the latest PuppetWorks shows is to never reveal the puppeteers until the end (old Riverside PuppetWorks shows used to have a few numbers where the puppeteers would come out and interact with guests showing all the strings, workings, and so forth) Our theory is to allow a more complete world so the audience believes in the characters and their interaction with each other. The witch does not appear outside her window because of the puppet design, she could only exist as a cabaret style blocking the performers face (making awkward curtain call and meet and greet). We also like keeping her mystery (hence her lacking even a definite name)
As far as the performance: each character is often performed by more than one puppeteer throughout the show. For example: Grizz is operated by Eric during the first act, then is later picked up by Steve for the second act and then Sarah for the final Duel.
One interesting difference between PWP and the PWS series is that the puppets often change sides during a scene...and yes, often the puppeteer gets up and runs across the stage too.
Some puppets actually also do a costume and/or prop change. IE: There are several sheep puppets for several of its disguises, however one of the puppets has snaps and velcro to change wigs and glasses to act as 3 of them. One of the oogles also changes pumpkin buckets for the different effects needed for his trick or treating.
There are over 30 characters and 50 puppets used in this 23 minute show!
To do this all effectively, alongside specific direction, each puppeteers studies each other and how we move each character created so that they are consistent. The Witch and Grizz should always have the same body movement and characteristics despite who is animating. All the voices are pre-recorded and mixed so its just a matter of bringing those words to life.
Who is the voice of ("character")
and how is it recorded?
PWP was a lot of fun as several PSP troupe members and alum make voice cameos in the show.
Click here for the voices behind the characters page!
PWP was also our first "all
digital" puppetworks productions. PSP Audio Engineer Greg
Boucher uses a few different multi-tracking and audio editting programs
to record, sync, and mix the entire track. Often one performer must
act against him/herself while laying voice tracks since some characters
voiced by the same actor often talk to each other. For the Crypt
Chicklettes, Kristen sang the song 3 full times in 3 different keys and
Greg layered them to sound like the quartet (one chicken must be lip-syncing).
The whole process was initially done in about 2 weeks not counting pickups
and script tweaks. In 2006, all the new material was recorded in
a 4 hr session and then editted and mixed for about 20 hrs.
Are all those puppets really
done by just three puppeteers!?
Yes. However, We do have a fantastic tech team that does assist with the show.
Brian Lepine is usually in the back of the house and control 99% of the lighting, and all of the sound. He also control effects like the bubbles, back fog, and strobes.
Backstage, we have a great stage tech/assistant-who is there to take care of all the curtain pulls and is there to assist us with "costume/puppet changes". When we shed a puppet and need another fast, one of those women is there for us. Unlike past PWS assistants, we did sneak this person into a few "on-stage" roles to accomplish some PWP elaborate scenes such as during the chase sequences and Gary the Gargoyle, first debuted by Megan when she started on the show as a backstage tech before becoming lead puppeteer..
Otherwise, its up to the 3 rotating puppeteers to bring all 30+ characters to life in 23minutes. The whole show is very fast-paced and much of the chaos is in the backstage show of the puppeteers running around breaking a real sweat!
One reason we love Puppetworks, is because (just like improv and sketch comedy!) it allows our small troupe to portray many characters.
How much room do you have back there?
How does the set go together?
The area is extremely tight considering we have 4 people working with nearly 30 puppets and a second show taking place in the same venue. Thanks to a well skilled team, its pulled off with great routining.
Check out this new "building SoundStage Theater" page for some behind the scenes pics!
Where do you get your puppets/Who
makes the puppets?
We were lucky enough to inherit our basic stock of puppets from Riverside Park that formed the base of the WRKS sock hop. Over the years, these puppets were given their own names and personalities by us and developed over several shows and appearances.
In 1996, Eric constructed the Witch and the dragon snake marionettes. Over the years, the Witch has had a few facelifts including the most recent in 2004 by Jenny Taylor along with significant new face by Jeff Tingley and new hands and costume work by Sarah Skrodzki from 2003.
For PhantoSeize, in 2002 the PSP team took on the challenge of writing a show without the boundries of what we had in stock and left it to our collaborative imaginations to bring the story to life after it was written. Based on the script, Eric worked with Jeff on designs for several new characters including the Dr.Bones handpuppet (the marionette version was a store-bought skeleton rigged by Eric), the Goblins, and the "conducting ghost". The hand ghost and tree puppet were purchased from a source at puppetpartners.com. Grozzy was a puppet given to Eric by a friend cleaning out his closet and recostumed to become Grizz's long lost cousin. Other new costumes were either recycled and customized from other shows or created from scratch by Jeff and Sarah and their seamstress skills. A heavy workload was given to the small production team and they accomplished their goals.
In 2004, Jeff built Gary
the Gargoyle. After a few design flaws in the fragile materials (he
started ripping by the 4th day of shows), Eric gutted him and took Jeff's
original face structure along with neck sculp and rebuilt them around a
sturdier pipe along with a thicker and curved neck to later install and
paint him into the set. After some trial and error and teamwork collaboration
from all puppeteers, this new addition is one of our coolest and favorite
elements in the show.
We are also lucky to have puppeteers like Jenny and Sarah who greatly help upkeep the care of our characters.
In 2006, for the first time in almost 10 years the sheep was cloned! Kristen Blakely and Erin Jenkins took on the challenge of creating a pattern based on the current puppet and building 2 new sheep from scratch. They appear in the new show as a pirate and Freddy.
What other inside/hidden
jokes and other "behind the scene info" are layered in the show and/or
developed into material for the show?
Part of being an comedy troupe means that our interaction as friends often ends up as new material. Some examples:
What has stayed from PWS?
Grizz, Witch, the Sheep, the phone. The Slinky Birds and Crypt Chicklettes perform new numbers. Dr.Bones and the Oogles all make cameos in re-incarnated forms. Everything else, including all of the music, jokes, storyline, and a bunch of characters is BRAND NEW! In 2006, more nods to PWS were added but used in new ways such as the pumpkin and Freddy disguises, Dragon Snakes, and Baa-man.
Where does most of the music
PWP features music from a wide array of sources,many the soundtracks of the shows/movies we parody including the "Signs", "Harry Potter", "Survivor", "MIB","MIBII", "MonkeyBone", "Batman", and many more. The Slinky Birds dance to "Creature Cantina" and the ghosts dance to "They Might be Giants". The chase sequence is from "Violent Femmes" ("gone daddy gone"). Karaoke was used to perform the "Phantom Sheep" theme and "What a Feeling" with vocals of Kristen Blakely and Eric Boucher. Because the park carries a blanket ASCAP/BMI license, we are covered to use this music on property in the show.
Why is there so many "adult"
jokes and references?
Well, first remember that none of the show is "adult" as in "inappropriate". Even Grozzy Grosbourne uses only "Froggy Flapjacks" as his "F" words!
We always feel that kids aren't stupid and don't deserve a show that dumbs down for them. It is also important that the parents are entertained along with the kids so that the whole family has a great time. (otherwise the parents pull their kids out of there if they are bored even if the kids love it). Even if kids don't understand the exact parody reference, they are still in awe of the puppetry and laugh at the pure goofiness of the characters.
We do often have groups of teenagers and adults without kids coming now to enjoy PWP.
Being inspired by Jim Henson and the muppets, we hope to touch audiences on that level.
How Long is the show/How
long did it take to produce/When and Where can I see it?
The show lasts approximately 23 minutes. It is performed up to 5 times a day on weekends thru October at Six Flags New England.(Click Here for Show Times) On an average day, each show is usually played to a full house of almost 100 people. You can now also see the cast in the daily "Celebrate the Screams Parade".
Initially in 2002, The show
was produced over the month of September. Eric spent about 10 hours
with Greg recording voices. Greg spent about 45 hours recording and
mixing the track. Over the month, Jeff constructed puppets and costumes
with a small team including Sarah Skrodzki and Kristen Blakely, Carla hung
lighting, Tommy would paint, and so forth. The PSP team worked together
on many different aspects to bring this to life.
In 2006, the show was revamped significantly with over 50% new material. The show was re-written, recorded, built, mixed, and produced in approx. 3 weeks, including creating a brand new theater venue for it to be performed in.
If you have a backstage
question that you'd like answered, just E-Mail