By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
A puppet theater with local roots will perform an old time musical with a modern message in Oneonta on Friday, May 14 and Saturday, May 15.
The Catskill Puppet Theater, which has been around since the late 1970s, will be performing “The Villain’s Mustache,” which is described on their website as a “lively musical” and a “traditional old-time melodrama.”
“The play is fast paced and exciting enough to hold the attention of even the youngest children but contains enough real drama and good music to grab the audience as well,” said the website description.
“It’s a cool show for Oneonta because it’s about the old railway,” Carol Mandigo said, co-founder of the Catskill Puppet Theater.
Little Nell, the show’s young heroine, struggles when her family falls on hard times. They come to the city in order to make money where she meets a ragtime piano player named Moe and a hobo named Curley.
Audiences are encouraged to get involved by cheering, shouting advice or booing at the characters.
The musical uses a combination of original music, old time railroad songs and Tin Pan Alley songs. Some of the music was actually played during the time the show takes place at the turn of the century. It is described as being fast-paced and fun. But the story has a message that Mandigo feels residents of Oneonta can relate to.
“I think people in Oneonta can relate to it on some level because of the economy. Some shows ended up being more relevant than I hoped they’d be,” Mandigo said.
“It’s actually relevant for the times, but it’s a very fun show,” she continued.
The puppets in the show are two-and-a-half-feet-tall rod puppets, which are operated from below with strings and pulleys.
Mandigo said it was a unique style of puppetry that originated in Indonesia. The stage is 16 feet.
The Catskill Puppet Theater has performed all over the country and internationally, she said. They’ve had shows in schools, the Boston Library, and New York Museum for Television and Radio.
They once performed a show in Japan, bringing 18-foot high puppets halfway around the world for a puppet festival.
That Catskill Puppet Theater was started in 1979. “The Villain’s Mustache” is one of their oldest shows, she said.
Mandigo and Dennis Walrath operate the puppets.
The show will be 6:30 p.m., Friday, May 14, and 3 p.m., Saturday May 15, at the Foothills Performing Arts Center at 24 Market St. in Oneonta.
Tickets are $5 for kids and $7 for adults.
Go to foothillspac.org for more information.