Encountering crowds of star struck parents and children, Frozen’s Elsa and Anna, Tangled’s Rapunzel, and Santa Claus had to be personally escorted back to their cars after making appearances at Northside Library’s December to Remember last Saturday. In the mid-afternoon, superstar puppeteer Randal J. Metz of The Puppet Company and Children’s Fairyland presented “The Nutcracker.” About 1,400 people showed up throughout the day for the library’s December to Remember events.
“I remember going to the mall as a kid and taking pictures with Santa, and always remembering my mom having to fight crowds, find parking. There were fees to pay with seeing Santa,” says Cheryl Lee, Northside Library branch librarian and program coordinator. “So I decided to spread some holiday cheer and host a Santa appearance and make it free for those who want to meet him [while inviting more guest performers.]”
Packing the community room, the puppet show alone drew about 200 people. The Puppet Company’s version of “The Nutcracker” depicts many characters from the familiar ballet; including Clara, a puppet with butterscotch hair and a light sea green nightgown; the Nutcracker, a mustached puppet in red and yellow regal attire, and the Mouse King, crowned and wielding a sword during a climactic fight scene with the Nutcracker. As a nod to the winter setting, Retz started the show by parading a white snowflake dancing against the backdrop of a translucent blue fabric.
While Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” played, audience members found amusement in a puppet dog that could stretch into the shape of a hot dog, a giraffe with a neck that pulls up to reveal a red and white candy cane design and an elephant that shows off its backside while dancing and later squirts water from its trunk. Sometimes Retz brought out string puppets with special effects, such as a dragon puffing smoke.
“‘The Nutcracker’ is the quintessential holiday show,” Lee says. “My favorite part of the show is when Randal comes out with his big puppets. I think this puppet show is a good twist on the live staged show.”