Weekend Highlights

Published February 12, 2013
Going Places

A Parent’s Review: Puss in Boots at Northwest Puppet Center

by Laura Spruce Wight
seattle child article photo
seattle child article photo
Puss in Boots photos by Oregon Shadow Theatre.

Oregon Shadow Theatre’s delightful two dimensional Puss in Boots holds its own in a world of in-your-face 3D children’s entertainment. My daughter thoroughly enjoyed the show’s unique format and giggled through the hour-long tale.

Shadow plays originated in parts of Asia including Indonesia, India and China. The flat, intricate cut-out puppets are held between a light source and the screen. The puppets used in this show are a kaleidoscope of color and movement that come alive in the masterful hands of Oregon Shadow Theatre’s puppeteer. The figures sing, dance, ride donkeys, wrestle alligators and battle ogres.

This version of Puss in Boots, which originated as a French fairy tale, is set against the backdrop of New Orleans and Mardi Gras. Live Cajun, Zydeco and Caribbean music accompanies Puss as he helps his master Antoine improve his lot in life.

Puss is quite crafty and has a knack for persuading people to do just what he wants. My little one loved a scene where Puss loses his fishing rod, but improvises and ends up catching crawfish using his tail as a lure. The characters face many obstacles, but kitty and master triumph and celebrate their victory in the Mardi Gras Parade.

Watching the show feels like listening to enthusiastic grandparents bring a beloved dusty tale to life. Just two performers do the voices, play all the instruments, create sound effects, and operate the puppets. They spent time with audience members after the play, showing off their handcrafted puppets, demonstrating their tricks and answering questions. Several kids were off to the library after the show to look up how to create their own shadow puppets.

I brought my 5-year-old to the show, but my older daughter would have enjoyed it as well. I’d recommend reading a version of Puss in Boots together ahead of time, as the plot is a bit complicated for little ones to follow. 

Northwest Puppet Center has much to offer. You can visit the center’s puppet museum before and after the show and enjoy their collection of puppets from around the world. Museum admission is included in your ticket purchase. On our visit, kids had fun blowing off excess energy on the center’s playground and I overheard several kids pretending to be ogres and alligators as they frolicked on the play structures.    

When I asked my daughter what I should tell other families about the show she said, “Tell them it’s funny!” Then she launched into a reenactment of her favorite scenes for her envious sister.

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If You Go...

Where: Northwest Puppet Center. 9123 15th Ave. N.E., Seattle.  

When: Through Feb. 24; Saturdays and Sundays, 1p.m. and 3 p.m.

Admission: Children $8.50, adults $10.50, seniors $9.

Contact: 206-523-2579; www.nwpuppet.org.