Puppet show plan to boost tourism

JARED NICOLL
Last updated 08:09 17/09/2012

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Picton needs a magic monkey with a flying carpet to pull in punters during the tourist season, says theatre manager Bruce Anderson.

He is planning to set up more than $15,000 work of puppets and stage equipment to get the Mr Monkey and the Magic Flying Carpet puppet show up and running at the theatre by summer.

It will cost about $5000 to permanently ship the show to Picton from Wollongong, Australia.

The show is owned by Mr Anderson.

However, the theatre would need to create four puppeteer positions to work the world-class show which involves seven puppets and an eight-metre-long, three-metre-high split stage with hand-painted scenery.

Mr Anderson said the final decision lay with the theatre's committee who would decide whether to spend the money or not at a meeting tonight.

"I want to get the show going and I want people to come to Picton to see it - we're creating a tourist attraction.

"Children won't get bored of this, whole families will come and see it, and we can keep the ticket prices low thanks to sponsorship from businesses. Everyone in Picton benefits if we get more people enjoying themselves in town."

The set was designed by British theatre company Presto Puppet Theatre's artistic director Robin Lawrence and the art was painted by Australian artist David Brodie.

It took two years to write the play and design and build the equipment, which was completed in Wollongong about two years ago.

The show is about an African boy named David whose Australian friend, Carl, introduces him to Mr Monkey and they travel to Africa on his flying carpet to cure David's homesickness. Mishaps involving a treacherous snake occur and they fly back to Australia so Carl can give David a proper tour where they meet an Aboriginal girl, Pippa, at Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock.

The plot is full of morals for children, including keeping an open mind and the importance of friendship.

The show requires 37 pieces of scenic backdrops, including Uluru, the African countryside, a harbour, the Banana Club and clouds for when the monkey flies.

Puppeteers work three marionettes and four rod puppets behind the scenes across a split-level stage to a soundtrack.

"Just because we've got puppets not actors, there's really not much difference, it's an amazing show with lasting appeal.

"Whether we raise enough money to build new scenery and write a new story in the future, we'll see."

The puppet's last outing was to Wollongong Children's Hospital.

Thirty-five businesses have sponsored the theatre, which is a registered charity, to a total of $6000.

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Other businesses, such as Yealands Estate and the Crow Tavern, gave a further $6000 worth of goods.

- The Marlborough Express

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