by Edith Cody-Rice
If you wandered down Mill Street in Almonte at dusk on Thursday evening, you would have seen a team of artists furiously painting curtains on the shop windows. These are the final touches being prepared for the popular Puppets Up! International Puppet Festival which launched last evening at the Almonte Old Towne Hall.
This 8th Puppets Up festival was opened by visiting Czech Republic puppet troupe Docela Velké Divadlo which presented a colourful rendition of the classic Swan Lake complete with a real Odette/Odile ballerina. The show stayed true to the essential story and mixed live masked performers, hand puppets and marionnettes to portray this romantic tale with skill and humour. Yes, Odette dies, but, she is revived with the Prince's kiss, a sort of Sleeping Beauty insertion into the story. The magician who controls the swans is truly scary.
The ambassador of the Czech Republic, Karel Žebrakovský attended the Thursday evening performance and was welcomed by Mississippi Mayor John Levi who presented the ambassador with a Naismith medal in honour of his visit.
The Czech group repeated their performance Friday afternoon to an enthralled crowd of 150 at the Old Town Hall who rewarded them with excited applause.
There may be rain during the festival this year, but a good puppet show in a tent or the Old Towne Hall will be the perfect venue to spend a rainy day. The festival has had an auspicious beginning; the quality of the first show bodes well for the weekend to come.