Thistle Theatre offers a unique puppet show experience with its brand new The King of Dinosauria. Thistle is the only Northwest theatre that specializes in Japanese Bunraku-style puppetry, with three dimensional puppets manipulated by puppeteers dressed in black. You soon forget they are there as they team up to create incredibly life-like movement, making the puppets talk, sing and even perform elaborate dance numbers. My 5-year-old daughter could not figure out how the dinosaurs were talking.
This original story was inspired by the Marx Brothers and three of the dinosaurs embody the famous brothers. The King Grouchosaurus Rex channels, well, Groucho Marx and drops funny one-liners that keep parents chuckling throughout the show. Chico Parasaurolophus is one of his ambitious brothers. My daughter's favorite was Harpo Ankylosaurus who, just like the real Harpo, communicates via horn.
The King's dilemma is that he wishes to retire, but has a hard time picking a successor among his brothers to run the Choconutty Cocolates business that has brought peace and prosperity to his kingdom. Evil corporations embodied by Rita Ovaraptor and Sam Anhanguara (a pterasaur) manipulate each brother to favor their interests.
If dinosaurs, Marx Brothers and chocolate seem like an odd mash up, it is. My daughter was confused by the story, but she had favorite characters and seemed to understand that at its core, the play was about being honest. The truthful Tina Triceratops triumphs and the kingdom is saved. I think slightly older kids would have been able to follow the plot and catch the zippy jokes much better. That said, she giggled a lot and what kid doesn't like dinosaurs?
The show runs for one hour with no intermission. Kids can sit on the floor right in front of the action. The highlight for my daughter was meeting each puppet and puppeteer after the show. She got to touch the incredible puppets (gently) and ask questions. She was astounded to discover that they carved their own puppets and told the artist after marveling at his masterpieces, "You are a very good carver."
My daughter was asking to see the other shows she saw advertised in the program on the way home. I know our family will be back to enjoy Thistle Theatre's upcoming productions: Gingerbread Boy in December, Magic Teakettle in March, and Three Billy Goats Gruff in May/June.
IF YOU GO
When and Where: Bellevue Youth Theatre, 16661 Northup Way, Bellevue: Oct. 13, 14 at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.; Magnuson Park Theatre, 7120 62nd Ave. N.E., Seattle: Oct. 20, 21 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.; Sunset Hill Community Club, 3003 N.W. 66th St., Seattle: Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 27 and 28 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Admission: Child/senior tickets $8, general tickets $10.
Contact: 206-524-3388; www.thistletheatre.org.
Laura Spruce Wight is a Seattle-area freelance writer and mother of two.