BELOIT—When the human characters move into a neighborhood full of puppets, it leads to a full-blown conundrum in a special Beloit Memorial High School theatre video production released last week.
However, the series does have a happy ending.
The two-part miniseries is the culmination of months of hard work, and Theatre Director Greg Wallendal said he couldn’t be more proud of his students.
“We really enjoyed watching it and embracing what it turned out to be,” Wallendal said. “It was a learning experience. We created this unique world with puppets, and I’m proud of all of my students who were involved in it.”
Episode one, “Puppets in Peril,” was released on May 27, and episode two, “Puppets and the Pawns,” aired on June 3. Both segments were posted to YouTube and on the school district’s Classmunity fundraiser page.
Altogether, the entire production clocks in around 90 minutes.
The miniseries includes a mixture of humor, drama and intrigue as the puppet characters remain wary of their new human neighbors, leading to confrontations along the way.
In one scene, a group of puppet children ask the humans, Jordan and Jody, if they have any children the puppets can play with.
“No, sweetheart, not yet,” Jody says.
Friendly puppet character Ruby replies, “Like you haven’t unpacked it yet, or you haven’t built it yet?”
“No, um, we’re waiting.”
“Waiting for the right fabric?”
Other scenes focus on characters addressing their stereotypes and finding common ground.
And in the background, the production includes music scoring, transitions, sound effects and humorous narration from the character, Doug the dog.
Despite the absence of large-scale in-person shows during the coronavirus pandemic, Wallendal said the cast and crew has been grateful for community support.
“We got a lot of good feedback right away from people who saw it,” Wallendal said. “There’s been a lot of support from other staff at the high school who have cheered us on.”
About eight minutes of commercials are featured at the beginning of both episodes, with students and puppets acting out advertisements for local sponsors in and around Beloit.
“That was a fun aspect of all of this,” Wallendal said. “It was fun to just go wild with it.”
A host of individual donors also contributed hundreds of dollars to help make the production possible.
After buying some new equipment and experimenting with a virtual production this year, Wallendal said it opens up new possibilities for other productions, including the option of potentially livestreaming or simulcasting future plays.
Additionally, Wallendal said being involved in a year-long project was a therapeutic bonding experience for the students who were missing out on doing their usual musical and theatre routines.
For more information on the production, or to offer a donation, visit https://www.classmunity.com/sdbwi/view-fundraiser.php?fundraiser_id=1560
Community members wishing to view the series can go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAtNZFnXtN4