Tag: jim henson

Puppet Up Toronto Tour Diary – Day 5 – TV!

Before I tell you the story of today, I have to tell you about my fellow improviser, Brian Clark. Brian is just a great guy who embodies fun wherever he goes. He’s a true friend and can always be counted on to come up with a crazy idea in an improv or in just normal, day to day, conversation.

Yesterday, Brian got it in his head that we should have a Puppet Up Pool Party at noon at the hotel’s indoor pool. He was very insistent that everyone attend, so last night I knew if I did one thing today it would be to be at that pool party.

I was up early at 7AM this morning because I had to meet in the lobby at 8AM to go do a quick television spot to promote the show. I met Julianna in the lobby and we were off. By 8:20AM I was in my mic and we were on the streets of Toronto to shoot this quick 90 second spot. I was extremely happy it was only 90 seconds as it was COLD and I couldn’t wear my heavy jacket because the sleeve wouldn’t fit into the puppet!


The piece went great. I’ll try and find a copy of it online. It was short and just basically got across the info of the show. The interviewer, Rosey Edeh, spent most of the time talking to the puppet which is, actually, the best compliment you can pay a puppeteer.

At about 8:45AM I was back in my room and I crawled back into bed to catch some sleep before the Pool Party.

I woke up and looked at the clock…12:45PM! Yikes! I was late! I donned my suit and dashed downstairs and, luckily, the ‘party’ was still in full swing. Spent about 230 minutes or so swimming, then a quick hop in the sauna.

Later that afternoon, I explored Toronto a bit. Had lunch, which included French Fries with Gravy and explored a bit more. Then back to the hotel to chill a bit. Around 4:30PM Brian, Dan RIng and I went and had some dinner right next to the theatre and it was showtime!


Another great show tonight. The theatre was packed with very few empty seats and the audience was fantastic. We actually got a standing ovation.

20131025-005039.jpg (Patrick & Greg)

20131025-005253.jpg (Julianna & Amanda our Puppet Wrangler)

Some great scenes tonight. A Manners Movie about the dangers of walking and texting, A Bedtime Story called: Shopping At Ikea a.k.a. The Diarrhea Monster (that’s what the audience wanted), the climactic scene from a play called The Menstruation Proclamation (again, the audience wanted it) and a fantastic date scene.

Alien Barbershop got a good laugh. The topic was Government Shutdown. My, wordy, rhyme was:

The Government’s Shutdown
The Senators aren’t working today,
But nothing’s really changed
They never work anyway.

Had another good run at Java as well. Still trying to nail down certain beats, but I’m getting better at it. I think doing Java may be my new favorite piece above Alien Barbershop. It’s just really an honor to be in that piece.

Lots of fun in the lobby after the show meeting the audience and posing for pictures with the puppets. After the show it was back to the hotel to write the words you’re now reading.

I’m truly lucky to get to do this and I’m thankful for every minute. I never want it to end. Now we head into our weekend shows including two shows on Saturday. I can’t wait!

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Puppet Up Toronto Tour Diary – Day 4 – What A Show!

Today began slower as I was getting a bit of a sore throat and I wanted to rest it a bit. So I slept in quite late and then just sort of lounged around my room. I made myself breakfast, watched the rest of the Apple Keynote I’d missed yesterday, surfed the net….you know, life of a puppeteer on the road.

Also spent some time searching for reviews of last night’s show. Found three really positive ones including a 3 1/2 out of 4 star review from the Globe & Mail. The response on Twitter & Instagram seems very positive as well. Toronto loves us!

I got out and went for a walk later in the afternoon. Lots of great shops, restaurants and more in this area of Toronto. I want to explore the city a bit more in the days ahead. It’s really got a great vibe. It’s sort of very bustley like New York but has buildings that give it more of a Boston feel.

We were called to the theatre to fine tune some bits and everyone seemed sort of loose and relaxed from their first morning off with no early call. There was definitely a relaxed atmosphere backstage before the show.


And that show….Now THAT was a show! From top to bottom it was a great show and the audience gave us amazing suggestions all night long. Select highlights were: An eyewitness scene where two concert goers watched Justin Beiber commit regicide, an amazing date scene, a hilarious audience participation bit about a bingo caller and a fantastic puppet variety show with a creepy bunny who just watched each act. The cast was on fire tonight and each scene was just as good as the next. We seem to be really great at playing off each other. A good combination.

The suggestion for Alien barbershop was: Astrophysics. As we got closer to the song I was putting together a really complicated rhyme about physics in space and the movie Gravity and I suddenly said to myself, “I have no idea what Astrophysics is.” ANd I just decided to go with that. So my rhyme was…

Oh astrophysics
Don’t mean shit to me
And that’s because
I have a theatre degree.

It killed.

Java tonight was really fun as well. It’s just such fun to puppeteer on a classic Henson piece and walk in some very big footprints.


After the show some of us go to the lobby to greet the audience with puppets. It’s always a fun time. Some new merch on this tour. Love the ‘evolution’ shirt. Also, the theatre knows a cookie maker who made cookies of the Hot Dog & Alien puppets. I may have to partake before this run is over.


Now I’m back in my room writing this. Need to turn in early because tomorrow it’s up for TV! I may be doing weather with the puppet. I think it’s streamed online, so keep an eye on my twitter feed for info.

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Puppet Up Toronto Tour Diary – Day 3 – Opening Night

Yesterday I promised pictures of the lobby and here they are below! As you can see it really seems like the Puppets have taken over! Just the way we like it.



Today was the day of out big premiere. Very exciting. I did wake up with a bit of a scratchy throat so I went to get some tea. Seemed to do the trick. While sitting in my room I heard the sound of a voice talking through a megaphone or some other sort of amplification. I looked outside and right off my balcony, a street naming was taking place. No matter what else happens on the rest of this trip I can always say I was there when Macy DuBois Lane was named.

I spent the time before out 2PM call watching the apple keynote. Some good stuff there but it was all quickly forgotten when it was time to head to the theatre and get to work.

Today was a very tech heavy day. I’d love to say that it all went off without a hitch but our show does have some tech elements that really need to be tweaked. I will say our crew is the best and they take care of every detail. Between tour manager Juliana and production manager Greg, any issue gets squashed. They rock.


Our call was early because there were still some pieces we wanted to finesse and get nailed down even more securely than yesterday. We ran the set pieces and nailed down cues and crosses, tightening things for our opening night.

After a short dinner break it was back to the theatre to get into our ‘show blacks’ for curtain. The show was really great. The crowd had some great suggestions and I believe we paid them off pretty well.

I’m always in awe of my fellow puppeteers. Colleen is just an incredible improviser and it’s always fun to be in a scene with her. Ted is also brilliant and I always look forward to being in a scene with him. Our ‘spot’ scene about two airline pilots was a ton of fun. Michael Oosterom hit the second act opener ‘usher’ bit out of the park. His first time doing it and he rocked it. Same with Peggy who, did a great job with I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face. Especially considering the riser she was standing on was placed too far from the rail and she basically did the whole thing on her tiptoes in her giant boots. And Brian Clark is just crazy fun to be on stage with. His entrance as ‘Flamey’ a little ball of fire, in the Puppet Variety Show was hilarious. Totally ‘Hesnon.’


I had a so-so show. Felt a little flat in some of the improvs and Java, while going very well, had a small slip in it that will be corrected tomorrow, for sure.

I got to do the rhyme for the Alien Barbershop tonight and, while I think the joke was a little too predictable, it got a pretty good reaction. The suggestion was: Circumcision.

Now just hold still
And get a firm grip
Because if you don’t
I’ll take more than the tip.

Eh, so-so.

The finale will also need some tweaking on my end as well, to nail down the proper beats. I think, speaking solely for myself, things have been so technical leading up to tonight the ‘fun’ and ‘play’ of doing the show has sort of slipped to the back burner. Now that the tech stuff is nailed down, it’s time to really have fun.

Excited for tomorrow’s show. Excited I get to do this 13 more times. Grateful for every single second.

Ready for tomorrow.

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Puppet Up Toronto Tour Diary – Day 2 – Practice Makes Puppets

Today we got to see the theatre for the first time and let me say, it is a really great space and, in my opinion, a really great venue for us. We’ve played in a lot of fantastic venues but sometimes big giant 1500-2000 seaters are just a little too big for us. The Panasonic Theatre holds about 600 and I think it’s just the right size.


And let me throw out a huge thanks to Mirvish Productions that own the theatre have done amazing work promoting the show. There’s uge banners that take up the entire windows of the front of the theatre. Inside the lobby (I’ll try to get pictures tomorrow) there are more posters and videos screens playing promos. It’s almost as if the Miskreant Puppets had taken over the entire theatre. Pretty cool.

It was a drizzly day here in Toronto, but we were inside for most of it, so that’s fine. Today was a big rehearsal day. As I may have mentioned, there is a new finale in the show and it is sort of tech heavy so we wanted to get it up and running as quickly as possible.

One cool aspect of the finale is that two new puppets were built for it and I’m super grateful, and honored, that I was asked to puppeteer one of them. I even jokingly gave them names and they’ve seemed to stick. I won’t say anymore because it’d spoil them, but it’s pretty cool. I will again say that I’m eager to see what folks think of this finale. It is a feat of tech and puppetry and as someone said the first time they saw it, “That’s the darnedest thing I’ve ever seen.” Let’s hope Toronto thinks the same.


Besides finessing the finale time was spent on the ‘set’ pieces of the show. These are the non-improvised segments. So we ran through the opening, closing, Windy, Java and I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face. I’m feeling confident with playing the Big Java now. There’s some tricky puppetry but I’m using it to push my skills further and I really think I’m getting it. It’s to the point now where I’m getting to the point I can sort of put my own ‘take’ on it. Though, I’ll say my take is trying to emulate Bill Baretta’s take on it. I’ll never forget the first time I saw Bill perform it in San Francisco. It was like seeing it for the first time.

After rehearsal, I walked around Toronto a little with Colleen, then retired to the room for a bit. Then Brian Clark, Ted, Dan and I struck out for food. Lots of interesting to eat here in Toronto, though it reminds me of just about any downtown metropolitan areas.

We wound up at a place called Urban Food that had a Asian flare to it. I was going to get a salad, but decided to go outside my comfort zone and get crispy chow mien with chicken. It was okay, but nothing I’d write home about. Dan said it wasn’t the best he’d ever had, so maybe not a good benchmark for me to judge it by. Next time I’ll get a salad.

Tomorrow we have an early call and out first show. I can’t wait. This show really is the most fun thing I’ve ever done in my life and I’m ready to do it again. Having never done a drug, I’m thinking this is what addiction is like. Nervously waiting for that next ‘fix.’ It comes tomorrow!


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