The Northwest Puppet Center's Sorcerer's Apprentice brings a little slice of Paris to Seattle. This was my family's first visit to this theater, and my kids and I were smitten from the moment we entered the intimate space and saw the candy-cane striped stage. It felt much like the famed puppet theater in the City of Light's Jardin du Luxembourg. (So much so, that after the show, my kids asked where the chocolate crêpes were.)
The Carter Family Puppets' charming Sorcerer's Apprentice merges the age-old folk tale (made famous by Mickey Mouse in Walt Disney's Fantasia) with a 19th century Parisian hand-puppet play. A word to the wise: If you want to nab a coveted center seat on the floor (good for squirmy tots), show up early. But really, there are no bad seats as the theater is so small. Bonus: Kids can blow off steam outside on wooden play equipment. Another bonus: Audience participation is encouraged, making this an especially fun show for little ones (with some inside jokes for adults, too).
In this hour-long performance, hapless Pulcinella, a clown from Napoli, is penniless and hungry on the streets of Paris. As the powerful sorcerer, Malagigi, lays out a breakfast picnic, Pulcinella steals his tasty morsels one by one. (My 5-year-old son was hysterical with laughter when Pulcinella winds up dueling Malagigi, the clown with a wooden paddle in hand, the sorcerer with his baguette.) Pulcinella is befriended by Mimi, a young strawberry seller and pursued by a magic red hand, which elicited enthusiastic audience calls of "There he is! Watch out!" To pay for his misdeeds, Pulcinella must work as the sorcerer's apprentice.
When Malagigi heads off to a magic convention, Pulcinella is left in charge. If your kids know Fantasia, they'll recognize the mop with arms, hauling buckets of water and the inevitable flood that ensues. When Malagigi returns, he puts Pulcinella in "time out" down in the sewer. But faithful Mimi helps rescue him, battling a jaw-snapping crocodile in the process (that was the only moment in the show I saw scared toddler faces.)
I was a little afraid my 8-year-old daughter and her friend would think a puppet show too "little kid" for them, but the show got enthusiastic thumbs up from both girls.
Snacks are available downstairs at the box-office: juice, coffee, tea and chocolate chip cookies were on hand the day we went. But alas, no crêpes.
IF YOU GO:
Where: Northwest Puppet Center, 9123 15th Ave. N.E., Seattle.
When: Saturdays and Sundays at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. until Nov. 21.
Cost: Adults $10.50, seniors $9, children $8.50.
Contact: 800-838-3006 or 206-523-2579; www.nwpuppet.org.
Lynn Schnaiberg is a Seattle writer and mother of two new Northwest Puppet Center fans.