'The Hobbit' performed this month using puppets


November 11, 1998|By Pat Brodowski | Pat Brodowski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THE HOBBIT," J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy adventure story, opens on stage Friday for six performances at Northminster Presbyterian Church Hall, 705 Main St., Reisterstown.

Not only are the characters dwarfs and elves and unusual beasts, but each character is a puppet, operated by a puppeteer teamed with another offstage who supplies its voice.

"We're doing the traditional story of 'The Hobbit' with a variety of live-hand, hand-and-rod and simple-rod puppets," said Beth Phelps, a professional costumer who directs the nearly 40 puppets in the show.

"The Hobbit," as dramatized by Patricia Gray, seemed to lend itself to puppetry.

"Our characters, not being human, run the gamut from very small to very big. The dwarfs are 8 inches tall, but the giant [puppet] -- of the dragon -- if laid out, is probably 15 feet long. It takes five people to work it," Phelps said.

Sculptor Mike Malbrough of Open Space Arts designed the puppets. He is known in Hampstead for designing the enormous animal heads used in last spring's production at North Carroll High School. Neil Freeman directs the voices.

"The scale is so massive, so epic, and yet 13 dwarfs, all on the adventure, are always on stage," Phelps said. "That's where we started, by working on proportions."

Thespians of all ages from Carroll and Baltimore counties are behind the puppets. Among the Carroll countians are Chris Hickle inside the adventurous lead dwarf, Bilbo. Thom Barry was puppeteer for the wizard, Gandalf, until a recent collarbone fracture and now works lights and smaller characters. Laurel Damashek plays a troll, an elf, and is part of the immense dragon. Sammi Greenberg is among a group of youngsters who do sound effects. Paul Zimmerman, who is president of the board of directors for Open Space, is the voice of Smaug, the dragon, plus a goblin and two dwarfs.

Open Space Arts is a nonprofit organization that works on community and professional levels.

Resident companies include two theater groups, a writing group and a visual arts group. Staff members from the center give performances at area schools. The center is based in Reisterstown.

"We are devoted to art making that is used as a process for developing community," Phelps said. "We do a lot of stuff with large casts of all ages, really try to get people working together. The bottom line is having fun."

Performances of "The Hobbit" will be at 7: 30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Nov. 20 and 21. Matinees will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday and Nov. 21. A suggested donation is $5 for adults, and $3 for children ages 12 and younger.

Information: 410-526-9377.

Pro Wrestling Spectacular

Get set for screaming and cheering when the Samoan Head Shrinkers square off against Bad Crew during Pro Wrestling Spectacular 7 at 7: 30 p.m. Saturday at North Carroll High School on Hampstead-Mexico Road, Hampstead.

More than a dozen legends of pro wrestling fame, including Hampstead superstar Morgus the Maniac, will be in the ring.

The night of pro wrestling entertainment benefits North Carroll Business Club.

Tickets are on sale at the high school, Greenmount Station,

Ron's Automotive, Ledo's Pizza of Westminster, and Napa Auto Parts in Eldersburg and Reisterstown.

Information: 410-751-3458, Ext. 256 or 410-783-5416.

Trip to waterfowl festival

Naturalists from the Bear Branch and Piney Run nature centers invite waterfowl enthusiasts to join them on a trip to the annual Easton Waterfowl Festival on Saturday.

Vans leave Bear Branch at 7: 30 a.m. and stop for a second pickup of passengers at the gate at Piney Run Park at 8 a.m. before heading to Easton.

Departure is 7 p.m. from Easton, for arrival in Carroll County about 9: 30 p.m. or 10 p.m.

Travelers may tour Easton, or attend the waterfowl festival. Tickets to the festival are $10. Travel fees are $15 for members and $18 for nonmembers.

Information: 410-848-2517.

Pat Brodowski's North neighborhood column appears each Wednesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

Pub Date: 11/11/98

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