Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Theater review: DCT’s Rumpelstiltskin wood like to introduce you to Black Theatre rod puppets
These 18-inch puppets are larger than life.
DALLAS This production marks the 40th anniversary of one of the oldest and most respected puppet theatre troupes in the country. In Rumpelstiltskin at Dallas Children's Theater, they have taken one of their more beloved scripts, originally written for marionette style puppets, and restaged it for Black Theatre rod puppets. The result is something extraordinary.
The script has been pre-recorded by the voice talent so that the puppeteers can focus on bringing their diminutive performers to life. All of the voice artists did excellent work -- in particular, Douglass Burks as the King and Sally Fiorello as Rumpelstiltskin shone. Their recorded characterization of these characters was nuanced beautifully for this production!
The only issue with the audio was at times, particularly during Rumpelstiltskin’s sung portions, the music would overwhelm the voice. This swallowed the lyrics so we lost some of the words. That aside, the music captured the mood of this piece: whimsical, with just enough of a minor substratum to capture the darker reality of this Grimm fairy tale.
The move to the Black Theatre rod puppets created a transformative effect on the stage. The puppets were as large as life. Beautiful costuming, intricate detailing on the faces, and life-like movements caused the audience to hyper focus on the characters on stage. When the puppeteers revealed themselves at the end of the production, the illusion of scale was shattered. The puppets were very small — the puppeteer’s faces were half the size of the entire puppet!
The play itself followed the traditional tale with the perfect balance of humor and menace. Although one little girl near me was frightened by the antics of Rumpelstiltskin, I would say that this show is suitable for all ages. Of course, as a parent, you know your child’s tolerance for the slightly scary. The ending (which I will not spoil for you) divided itself a bit from the original narrative. After you see the show, read this paragraph again — by then you will be in on the sidesplitting joke.
All-in-all, it was a delightful 50 minutes. My daughter and I were transported to a magical land where 18-inch puppets are as large as life, where straw can be spun into gold, and pesky elves desire to steal your children. Thankfully, we are all immune to this threat. After all, we know his name — Rumpelstiltskin!
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