MORRIS – The Morris library was full of children, parents and puppets of all colors and species Saturday, as master marionette artist Dave Herzog entertained everyone with “Puppet Palooza.”
Herzog was on the stage – not behind it – and the audience got to see exactly how marionette puppetry worked, with the strings that attached the puppets to the controller, and how the marionettist worked the controller to make the puppets come to life.
There were so many moving parts on the puppets that sometimes they did seem to be alive. Legs and arms, heads, ears, tails, the trunks of elephants and even eyelashes moved in response to Herzog’s deft handling.
Hayley Ritz brought her two children to the show. She and Zoe, 7, and Evelyn, 8 months, happened to be at the library at the time to return and check out books,\ when they saw that the puppet show was going on, so they went downstairs to check it out.
They enjoyed the show. One of the puppets even came offstage at one point and “kissed” Zoe.
“It’s nice to have something like this that they can watch and laugh at,” she said.
Mariah Benda and her two-and-a-half year old daughter Haven also had fun watching.
“She’s never been to a puppet show,” Benda said. “She was scared at first, but then she started cracking up.”
Herzog’s marionettes included a figure skater; Senor Froggy from Mexico; a purple swan that danced and flew to Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake;” a red-haired clown dressed in rainbow clothes that walked across the stage on his hands; a costumed and masked puppet from Italy that walked a tight rope, foot shaking as he took his first step; the “world’s smallest fully-trained baby elephant, Raja, who was all cuteness, flapping his large pink ears and batting his eyelashes; and a snake charmer with his colorful and friendly snake.
Some of the puppets went out into the audience to visit the children.
Matthew Knott, Head of Children’s Services at Morris Area Public Library, said the show was a Catherine L. Hatcher Memorial Seminar. The seminars are held each year, sponsored by Edward D. and Valerie Hatcher, parents of Catherine. The shows alternate between subjects for children and those for adults.
Last year, the seminar was, “Quilts as Historic Documents.” Other subjects since the seminar began in 1992 include ancient Egypt, Claude Monet and Georgia O’Keefe. The first one was, “The Mystique of the Beatles,” which Valerie said was Catherine’s favorite band.
Valerie said she chose the marionette show for this year’s event because her daughter loved puppets and because she knew the children of Morris would, too.
“I used to take our children to the city all the time for puppet shows,” Valerie said, “and our daughter liked that. She was very creative. We had our own little theater at home where our children would put on puppet shows periodically.”
Those home shows included marionette puppets, finger puppets, and shadow puppets.
The Morris Area Public Library is gearing up to host their children’s summer reading program, which is “Galaxy of Stories.”