Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

A Parent’s Review: Anansi the Spider at Northwest Puppet Center

If you read our parent reviews much, you may have noticed that we're real fans of the Northwest Puppet Center. I am just the latest in a string of reviewers to be charmed by this funky converted church in north Seattle that showcases the fine art of puppetry.

Anansi the Spider, performed by Paul Mesner Puppets, presents four adventures based on the stories of Anansi, the trickster spider of African folk tales. These tales traveled with the African Diaspora (becoming Brer Rabbit in the American South), and one of the stories in the show comes from the Caribbean. There's a tradition of tweaking the Anansi tales and making up your own, and in keeping with that tradition, all of the stories in this show are interpretations, brought to the puppet stage by Mesner.

The audience definitely ran to the 6 and under set, but my 8-year-old daughter, who threatened to read Harry Potter if she got bored, enjoyed the show enough to keep her book closed. The Anansi puppet is more cuddly than scary, and both of my girls were particularly taken by the tiger and snake puppets featured in different stories. Our favorite was Yam Hills or The Magic Five, where Anansi tried to steal the goods other animals are taking to market by making them say "five," which causes the speaker to immediately crash to the ground in a faint. Needless to say, Anansi falls victim to his own trick.

Calling this a "puppet show" doesn't nearly convey the artistry involved in bringing these tales to life. It's really more of a one-man show, with music, lights, sound effects and set alterations rounding out the movement and voices of the various puppets. Audience participation is encouraged, and Mesner responds to the call-outs from the crowd.

Mesner brings out the puppets afterwards, shows the audience a bit about how they work and answers questions from the group. It makes for a lovely hour-long outing on an otherwise dreary day.



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

When: Through Jan. 23., Saturday and Sunday at 1 and 3 p.m.

Admission: Adults $10.50, seniors $9, children $8.50.

Contact: 206-523-2579;

Ruth Schubert is the managing editor of Seattle’s Child. 

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Ruth Schubert