Coming up at the end of the month, The Rose Theater will bring audiences into a unique reimagining of two classic Hans Christian Andersen tales with The Grocer’s Goblin & The Little Mermaid.
After a year and half of development, the collaboration of playwright Brian Guehring and director Stephanie Jacobson has produced a show that takes audience from a 900-seat theater, to a shop in 1830s Copenhagen, and then to an underwater world. All of this with the use of actors, lighting, and various amounts of puppetry.
“When Stephanie approached me about this project, I immediately jumped on board,” Guehring said. “I was excited about the collaboration with a gifted puppeteer and the challenge of incorporating the puppetry into the script. I am always excited about exploring new way to make a unique theatrical experience for our audience.”
Jacobson, who spent time as an assistant to the artistic supervisor at Jim Henson Studios, and Guehring worked closely with puppet consultant Eric Novak on bring the puppet to life on stage. Novak is a puppet designer and sculptor from New York City whose clients include Disney, Sony, and Scholastic Books.
The shows use of multiple locations makes for an interesting challenge for designers. The Rose said that lighting not only incorporates traditional stage lighting, but must also adjust for the projections that are a key component of the shadow puppetry used in the show and serve as a visual transition between land and sea.
The cast of the show even spent time at the Henry Doorly Zoo’s aquarium to study the movements and environment of underwater sea creatures. The Rose said that the cast will use their experience in their Bunraku and shadow puppet creation.
“This is The Rose;s spectacular storytelling at its very best,” said Rose Artistic Director Matt Gutschick. “These two stories share a message we don’t hear often in today’s world - that true love is about putting another’s needs above your own at times. Both the goblin and the little mermaid put aside their own wants in order to help those they love most, and in so doing, they are rewarded in ways they never imagined, It is a beautiful message.”
The Grocer’s Goblin & The Little Mermaid opens January 31st at The Rose Theater. For more information, visit www.rosetheater.org.
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