ALMONTE, ON—Hot on the heels of last year’s wildly successful, sold-out adaptation of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, Puppets Up! will once again bring their magical touch to another much-loved Christmas tale.
It’s A Wonderful Mississippi Mills Life is a comic, slightly naughty adaptation of the classic Christmas story of a man who has sacrificed for others all his life. In the pit of despair when his world seems about to come crashing down, George Bailey mulls whether the whole world would be better off if he’d never been born. His guardian angel Clarence gives him a rare gift: the chance to see the impact he has on the world in ways he can never imagine.
“What we do to create these shows is lock playwright Allan Martin in a room with nothing but a supply of licorice spice tea until he comes up with an adaptation that is faithful to the original story, hilariously funny, shot through with clever topical references, leavened with sweetness and original touches that make it a thoroughly entertaining tale for the Christmas season,” says Puppets Up! founder and Artistic Director Noreen Young. “Fortunately, Allan works well with tea.”
It’s A Wonderful Mississippi Mills Life features a single “live” actor, David Frisch, who plays the central character, George Bailey. All the other characters in the story are played by seven puppeteers, including Young, who animate 48 puppet likenesses of local figures, which she has built over the years. Each puppet is costumed in custom-made, period dress by renowned costume designer, Almonter Ingrid Harris.
Featured among the puppets is CBC radio’s gardening guru, Ed Lawrence, as the angel Clarence, animated by Noreen Young and voiced by Lawrence himself.
Preparation for the show began in late August and late September, when a small group of the actors and director Catherine Clark held table readings of the first drafts of Martin’s adaptation.
“The table-read atmosphere leads to a lot of improvising among the actors,” Martin says. “I have a welcoming attitude about improv. My feeling is: If it makes the show better, let’s try it.”
In October, the company began preparing the final version of the show. “It’s so much fun to do this, to play opposite puppets,” Frisch says. “It’s almost like the Muppets. The puppeteers are amazing. They make the puppets come to life.”
Young says she hopes to establish the Puppets Up! show as a Christmas tradition for Mississippi Mills, Lanark County, and the Ottawa Valley.
“Last year’s production of A Christmas Carol was a roaring success, selling out every seat before it opened,” Young says. “So people who love what we do should act fast to avoid being disappointed.”
It’s A Wonderful Mississippi Mills Life plays at the Almonte Old Town Hall, 14 Bridge St., Almonte:
Friday, Dec. 15 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, Dec. 16 at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm
Sunday, Dec. 17 at 2:30 pm
The show is not recommended for those under 16 years of age.
Tickets are $25 and are available in person in Almonte at Baker Bob’s (73 Little Bridge St.), in Carleton Place at The Blossom Shop (167 Bridge St.) and at The PakenhamGeneral Store (2524 County Rd. 29) in Pakenham. Also available online at Eventbrite.
For more information, contact co-producer Margie Graff, firstname.lastname@example.org, 613-253-1465 or 613-850-1465.