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, however we never meet the witch up close) Who animates the Witch?"
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) This allows a more complete world and allows the audience to believe 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 Act I, then changes sides and Johnny animates Grizz for the Phantom disguises (vader, krugar, baaman) sequences.  The Witch is animated by Johnny for Act I & II (trick or treat scene), then Jeff for the disguise sequence, then Eric for the snow finale.
To do this 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?
Eric Boucher (writer/director) is the voice of many of the characters in the show since its start.  The Witch was first inspired by Mrs.Doubtfire and Grizz was a cross between Brak (space ghost) and Don Knotts.  The sheep's voice was developed by Kevin "Zippy" Zabawa for RRN, and Eric used that for inspiration when the sheep actually talks at the end.  The narrator's voice ("Johnny" as named in PWS1) is inspired by Riff Raff (Rocky Horror).  Eric is also the voice of Regis Foolbin, Baa-Man, Phantom Krugar, Marvin Oogle (although Jeff animates Marvin and Eric animates Beanie voiced by Jeff), Cappy/Haley Oogle and Vader Sheep (which Eric actually wore the vader mask while recording).
Jeff Tingley is the voice of Beanie (ensign Johnson) Oogle, the Crypt Chicklettes, and all the Sheep's "BAA"'s.
In past shows, Greg was the voice of Beanie and the Sheep Baa (PWS2) and Zippy was the voice of Beanie (PWS1).
(FYI, the voice-over in LMASM is done by PSP alum Kate Chaconas. Eric, Kate, and Jeff also are the voice on many of the Six Flags NE ride spiels)
The way the show is recorded is sorta tedious, but works thanks to the efforts and talents of PSP audio engineer Greg Boucher.  Greg uses a basic multi-tracking machine that allows us to layer various voices, sound effects, and music.  Often, Eric will go thru the script laying down the voice of one character, then Greg backs the tape up, switches tracks, and plays back the recording in one of the ears of Eric's headphones as he then lays down another characters interaction with the first character.  Later, in post-production...Greg will add sound-effects, edit pauses, and blend music....as he also finds the right levels to make the interaction believable.

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.
Carla Tome or Tommy Lynch is usually in the back of the house and control 99% of the lighting, and all of the sound. they also control effects like the bubbles, back fog, strobes, and snow.
Backstage, we have a great assistant-Melissa Martinez.  Melissa takes 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, Melissa is there for us.  She also pulls the string for the floor dragon snakes (as Eric operates the "skycoaster" ceiling snake) along with the window strobe light, and on-stage fog machine. FYI- Melissa is also the usher for LMASM and helps Greg with his costume change.
Otherwise, its up to Eric, Jeff, and Johnny to bring all 24 characters to life in 22 minutes.   The toughest has to be the Trick or Treat scene where we have 3 oogles on stage and 3 transformations.....but thanks to Melissa and other teamwork, we do it!
One reason we love Puppetworks, is because (just like improv and sketch comedy!) it allows our small troupe to portray many characters.

What exactly does Grizz and the Sheep say during their argument at the end of the show?
This multi-layering of Eric's 3 voices is one of the funnest inside jokes of the show.  At first, their conversation is scripted, but then Eric just babbled and improvised with each character to create a blur of chatter when Greg mixed down.
The gist goes as follows:

  • Grizz starts with an explanation ala the Scream movies comparing the different expectations each episode of a trilogy must have. He also mentions a running joke from the summer how Jeff would visit him at the storage studio promising him a show, but kept leaving him there.  He then starts to complain that the sheep has too many costumes and that Darlene (the park's ops manager) just bought a new Freddy Krugar costume for Movietown and he thinks she'll let him wear it.
  • The Sheep starts off by saying he feels he is mocked and that he tries very hard to scare the witch. Also that Grizz has more lines than him so he should stop complaining. He also complains that Zippy gave him this silly accent. He askes Grizz if he'd rather be in a big show like Batman, with our friend Rusty Locke, who is now in LA and also called the Phantom Sheep a Tragic Goat.
  • Soon, the Witch cuts in clearly to interrupt the two from arguing.

  • When Greg gives us a breakdown of the mix, we'll be sure to post the exact conversation.

    What other inside jokes are in the show/developed into bits for the show?
    Part of being an comedy troupe means that our interaction as friends often ends up as new material.  Some examples:

  • The game show scene on the phone first started as a Hollywood Squares parody with Grizz having a nightmare of being the secret square.  PSP's Jon Gill was a major source of inspiration for this scene. Jon often makes comic references to Secret Square Charles Nelson Reilly...both mentioned.
  • Beanie is wearing a red shirt with a star trek pin and is referred to as "Ensign Johnson".  Classic Star Trek fans know that the guy in the red shirt, with the generic last name (Smith, Johnson, etc.) is the first to get zapped!  Beanie is then the first to get zapped into a frog.  Beanie also makes a reference to having to find a "good fabric surgeon to change him back from last time (PWS1 &2)".
  • The Frog croaks the phrase "This is Redonkulous!". This is a tribute to our friend Jeremiah (aka "BullFrog") Kenworthy who coined this phrase while frustrated at Wal-Mart.
  • Offstage, the Witch mentions she is "trying to sell a broken chandelier on E-Boo".  This is a direct reference to the opening of the Phantom of the Opera, in which a broken chandelier (caused by the phantom) is being auctioned (but not on E-Bay).  One possible opening for PWS2 and PWS3 was to open the show by recreating that famous scene with a broken disco ball.
  • "Cappy Oogle" is referred to as "Haley" by Grizz in reference to Haley Joel Osmett as part of  the "Sixth Sense" joke.
  • Sometimes a puppet crow appears on the side ledge of the castle during the pre-show. He has been named "Brandon" in honor of Jeff's favorite movie, the Crow (starring Brandon Lee).
  • The camcorder Grizz uses is labeled with the brand "PSP VideoTechPal 2000V", a reference to PSP's LMASM's "TechPal 2000V" equipment.  It is made out of a video cassette case and coffee cup; however the phone "puppets" used are real phone receivers.
  • The "Oogles" have been part of PuppetWorks since before PSP times. They used to end each show with a song called "no good-byes" (which the witch quotes to them in PWS2) That's why they all turn and smile as celebrities when announced.

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    Why don't we see the Oogle Kids again?
    PWS fans know that the Oogles keep coming back for more.  We often consider them coming back (in PWS1 the frog does come back to sing at the end with Grizz) just because of the "Willy Wonka theory" (many kids were scared of that movie because the kids are never seen again).  Although Marvin has been turned into a bat before, Cappy gets attacked by a dragon snake, and Beanie keeps getting turned into a frog....we try to make the Oogles appear as bratty impatient kids and the witch a friendly hero so that no one misses or feels bad for the fated Oogles.

    What has stayed from PWS1 and PWS2?
    Although 85% of PWS3 is brand new and 100% of the show has been newly recorded, some favorite moments and framework has stayed with the show.  The Snow finale and the Disco sequence is similar to PWS2.  The Dragon Snakes number has stayed in the show since 96 as the witch's signature special brew piece.  We have added new effects to each sequence to make each piece stronger.  Each show also has a Trick or Treat scene that results in Beanie getting turned into a frog at least, but differ otherwise. PWS3 has a Scream phone parody, but much different than PWS2's.

    Where does most of the music come from?
    In case you can't tell, we LOVE Danny Elfman's music!  Much of the music is from such soundtracks as "Nightmare before Christmas", "Batman", "Beetlejuice", "Edward Scissorhands", and more (LMASM also uses "Mars Attacks" and "Dolores Clayborne")  Of course, music from the films/shows we parody are also used in the show during their relevant sequences (ie: Survivor, Nightmare on Elm Street, Star Wars, etc.)  Six Flags does pay blanket license fees so that we may legally use this material.

    What's with the Posters in the Theater Lobby?
    To help emphasize the themeing of the "SoundStage Theater" (home to PWS and LMASM), we wanted to help advertise the shows by placing movie-like posters in the theater lobby.  Because PWS3 parodies so many movies, it made sense to do the posters as parodies also.  One of the PWS3 posters is a blatant parody of the Blair Witch poster.  The other is just a montage of the shows characters that was created by using video snapshots off PWS2's lobby video promo.  The posters were printed thanks to help from Eric Fluet at Six Flags Marketing.  Previous posters were hand drawn by Jeff Tingley. The LMASM one was a parody of many B horror film posters.

    Why is there so many "adult" jokes?
    Well, first remember that none of the show is "adult" as in "inappropriate".
    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 PWS3.
    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 22 minutes.  It is performed 4 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 200 people.
    It is also expected to be back for Frightfest 2001.
    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, Kate constructed puppets and costumes, Eric built Props, Jeff hung lighting, Tommy would paint, and so forth. The PSP team worked together on many different aspects to bring this to life.
     
     

    If you have a backstage question that you'd like answered, just E-Mail us!



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