Well the Summer has started with some lovely sunny days. The Caerwys Agricultural Show, which coincided with The Queen’s Official Birthday, was blessed with glorious sunshine. They deserved the good weather since last year’s event suffered the worst weather I have ever experienced for a show. It was so wet and the ground so waterlogged that the cars and trucks were getting bogged down getting on to the showground. It got worse, in fact it rained all day long.  So it seemed only fair that they should strike lucky this year.

I did three shows during the day with goodly crowds for each.

I’ve also been  busy in the Harlequin with school shows – two coming from Northern Ireland and a third from the Sheffield area. There are less of these private bookings these days, partly due to the high cost of transport but also to the increasing health and safety complications involved in planning such trips.

They usually are older children, around 11 years old, and they make a lovely audience, eager and appreciative.

I’ve just taken a break from rehearsing Alice which I am startingearly since as it gets nearer to end of term I’ll have less time due to work in schools. This is when many of the schools book me to visit the school with a puppet themed workshop, usually to fit in with their Seaside topic.

Now excuse me, there’s a Duchess and a Cheshire Cat need my attention.

The Summer is on its way

The Sun is shining and the Summer is on its way. Yesterday was the last day of the late May Holiday when we presented “A Silly King and the Wrong Wife” and also “The Little Ballet of the Handkerchief Princess” which, together with ourBimbamboozle  Magic Tricks and Marionette Cabaret mad for a longer show than usual, almost two hours. Everyone seemed to enjoy the show and I had lots of lovely appreciative comments and some really delightful little helpers with the Magic.

I’m now making plans for the Summer Holidays when the feature production will a potpourri of favourite scenes from “Alice in Wonderland” and I’ve sneaked in Humpty Dumpty from “Alice through the Looking Glass”.

Next Saturday is the the first of the weekends where I present Punch and Judy at fetes and galas. This is the Caerwys Agricultural Show. Last year was the first time I have appeared at this show and I met some very nice families. I am looking forward to my visit on the 9th June. when I will be presenting two Punch & Judy Shows and a Magic Show during the day. If you fancy visiting this traditional and well run event it is The Caerwys Agricultural Show, Gatehouse Fields, Babell, CH8 8PY. My shows will probably be at 12.30, 2.30 and 4.15


In a nutshell ……..

I had a delightfully unexpected gift through the post this morning – an exquisite miniature diorama of a beach Punch show constructed in half a walnut shell. I will post a picture but this doesn’t do it justice because the delight comes from appreciating how tiny are the pieces being modelled, positioned and painted. The artist, Ruth Brickland, has a website on which are illustrated a number of her creations. Many are inspired by lives of the saints, children’s literature and so forth, but I spotted Houdini and a Magician producing a Rabbit as being of special interest.


You can find them on http://www.ruth-brickland.co.uk

February Half Term Success

It was such a great feeling to reopen the Harlequin after so many months. At last the bulk of the renovation after the fire is complete and the Hansel & Gretel production went ahead without problems. Audiences were a healthy size on most days, and even on the couple of days when you were only a few you were an enthusiastic few.

Thanks for all the kind remarks and good wishes, and thanks for being patient, and coming back.

Next on the books is the Easter Season with Toys on Parade in The Magic Toyshop.

Re-opening a week today!

The carpenter who started  repacing the fire damaged doors started in September. Then, having got me secure in a fashion he went off on other jobs. Then he went on holiday, came back and caught the flue and has only just been able to continue with the job. He hopes to be all finished by Tuesday. Then the flooring chap has to come and replace the burnt cork tiles around the threshold.

The electrics are nearly completed.

I’ve managed a couple of run throughs of Hansel and Gretel, and tested out stage lighting and sound etc. I’ve still a lot of cleaning and clearing, but there is nothing that could stop The Harlequin re-opening so I’m really looking forward to getting back into harness. I’ve even got a couple of dozen email and telephone bookings and so will have an audience. That’s the most important thing of course.

Roll on a week today, Sunday February 11th.

Almost there.

Tuesday and Wednesday saw a visit from Chem-Dry, the company cleaning the seats. They completed the cleaning of all 118 on the first day, then came back next day to re-fireproof the fabric. They are looking good.  On Thursday the electricians were here and are almost finished. I expect them again next week. The foyer curtains have been cleaned and are in the process of being re-lined, and should be back the week before I open.

My season starts on the 11th of February so I’m busy rehearsing Hansel and Gretel at the moment. I’ve also made a soundtrack for the cabaret section of the programme so things are coming along nicely. I’ve actually taken one or two bookings so it really feels like I will be back in business before too long.

It’s been quite a slog with a lot of frustration, but helped enormously by the friends and fellow puppeteers who have, unsolicited, given practical help in various ways.  I am very grateful  to you all.

Starting to feel like home

The Curtains are back from the cleaners and have been re-hung. They will need a lot of adjusting but already the theatre is feeling more its old self. There’s a long way to go yet, but a February half term opening is now “on” and assuming no set backs the Hansel & Gretel witch will be cackling her greeting to the kids .

The main curtain is of 60 year old red corduroy and the blue drapes are a similar aged velvet. Considering their age they have cleaned up quite well. I would have loved new, but insurance only brings you back to where you were before the fire.

The harlequin pattern curtains in the foyer have gone off now. Their linings, which faced the sunlight, will certainly not withstand cleaning so these curtains will need relining. The main fabric still seems pretty sturdy which is good since I doubt if I could have matched, or even near-matched, that particular pattern.

We will be open for February Half Term

This picture shows the auditorium after a partial clean. The walls and the roof have been done. The seats and the floor have still to be done. Before that the fire doors need finishing, and there will be a partial electrical rewire, and the stage curtains which have been cleaned now need re-hanging. And I’ve a lot of cleaning backstage – which only I can do.

But up to today the auditorium was full of scaffolding. This is the first time I have been able to properly see the cleaned walls.

Stage one complete

The cleaners have finished the basic cleaning of the theatre. They sign off tomorrow morning. Then early January the scaffolding (which fills the auditorium giving access to walls and ceiling) will be removed and hopefully the firm who are to clean the seats will be able to give me a slot. I know that they are busy with work on Anglesey cleanng up after flooding, but if they can manage to get to me by late January there is a good chance I can be open for the February half term.

The curtains have been cleaned and so can be re-hung. The doors need finishing and there’s quite a bit of electrical work, but it all seems more possible now that the main cleaning has been achieved. The only problem could be the seat cleaning, but the firm have promised to do their utmost to get to me sometime in January.

I am feeling much more optimistic, partly because of the possibility of a theatre re-opening in sight, but also because this week I have been busy with Christmas shows in Nurseries and Primary Schools and the the children’s excitement is infectious. It’s one of the joys a children’s performer shares with the parents of the  young,  to be able to enjoy Christmas through the eyes of the children.

Next day, Friday

The cleaners were back this morning and we had a walk round inspecting what had been done. It really is impressive what they have achieved in a couple of days. The auditorium is much brighter for not only have the smoke webs and soot stains been removed, but also the discolouration of the years of nicotine contamination. Smoking was allowed, and normal, in the early days of the theatre.

Even backstage where access was very limited due to the clutter they have achieved marvels.

I can’t post any pictures of their work because the scaffolding is still in situ – but I’m impressed.

The cleaning team as well as being obviously experienced and hard working were all, without exception, nice lads and obviously cared about the work they were doing. They’ve certainly given me a nice Christmas present in that I can now see a bit of light.

In case I don’t add anything in the next few days I will wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful 2018.