How do you get a Sesame Street-like experience without the pangs of guilt that come with plunking your kid down in front of the TV? Check out Cyndi Soup and the Thumbs Up Puppeteers.
Toward the end of every month, Cyndi Soup and her crew of puppets and actors take the stage at the cozy Tim Noah Thumbnail Theater in Snohomish. The show is advertised for "young families," and on a recent visit the audience ranged from sleeping babies to a handful of kindergarteners, accompanied by moms and grandmas. The sweet spot seemed to be kids 3 to 4 years old, though older and younger children liked the show, too.
As the performance kicked off on a recent Friday, the kids shrieked delightedly at the appearance of a floppy yellow puppet called Gus Puppy. The pooch kept popping up unexpectedly from behind the set's oversized armchair and other props. Then the children – many of whom clearly knew the routine – sang and gestured along to an opening tune led by Tim Noah on guitar.
The show's storyline sought to encourage kids, through Muppet-like puppet children named Franky and Mary Lou, to express themselves and try new activities, even if they're not good at them. This message was delivered by a motherly Cyndi Soup, a.k.a. Cyndi Elliott, who invited children on stage to sing and participate in the show.
But it was really the moments of silly slapstick and the numerous sing-alongs that were the highlight of the performance. Luckily the seating, cushioned pews and floor space in front of the stage, was forgiving for squirmers when the dialogue went too long and the muddled plot line got confusing. Overall, Cyndi Soup offers an accessible and entertaining – not to mention cheap – introduction to live theater.
IF YOU GO
Where: Tim Noah Thumbnail Theater, 1211 4th St., Snohomish.
When: 10 a.m., Friday and Saturday toward the end of each month (usually the last weekend).
Cost: $5 per person.
Contact: 360-568-9412; http://thumbnailtheater.com.
Lisa Stiffler is a Seattle freelance writer and mom.