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Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre Reopens




JULIAN ABRAHAM, HOST: You may not know this but the New York Parks department has an in-house company of puppeteers. Their home is The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre in central park. But like Broadway, this theater has been closed since March 2020. Tomorrow the puppeteers reopen the theater with a new production. Emily Schutz has the story.


(SOUNDBITE OF THE SHOW)


EMILY SCHUTZ: That was Anything Can Happen in a Dream from “Wake Up Daisy”, the musical that opens tomorrow morning at The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre. Artistic Director Bruce Cannon says after keeping the production on hold for two years, there’s a lot of excitement among the company.

BRUCE CANNON: Obviously collectively we had to go through a lot and we all had to pivot in some way but I think we’re coming out the side in a wonderful place and I’m thrilled about the show.


SCHUTZ: Kervin Peralta is one of five puppeteers in this show. He’s a long-time member of the company–he joined straight out of college.


KERVIN PERALTA: I mean for me this is like my second home and it’s been my second home for fifteen years. I mean I didn’t think we were gonna be back at all.


SCHUTZ: Peralta says in the two the theater was closed he faced his fair share of struggles.

PERALTA: Very early in the pandemic, I caught covid and I’m lucky to be here because it was rough. The fact that we’re gonna open the significance of that is I think there’s a sign of hope.


SCHUTZ: The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre has long been something of a staple for Upper West Side elementary schools, daycare centers, and summer camps. And tomorrow a new audience will see Wake Up Daisy, which co-author Marcus Stevens describes as an updated Sleeping Beauty…with no non-consensual kissing.


MARCUS STEVENS: Daisy who is our version of Sleeping Beauty lives at the el Doroto building. It’s very New York-centric Central Park plays a huge role in the show.

SCHUTZ: This afternoon in the theater, the final dress rehearsal was underway. Five puppeteers stood on a bridge above the stage, controlling the marionette choreography in time with the music.

SCENE SOUND

SCHUTZ: Actress Sarah Cheatham voices Daisy.

SARAH CHEATHAM: In this modern telling of sleeping beauty she’s not just asleep for her entire story.

SCHUTZ: Rather than waiting for a prince charming, she says, Daisy is master of her fate.

CHEATHAM: That’s just so empowering for young girls and I’m just so excited to be a part of that story.

SCHUTZ: Puppeteer Kervin Peralta says their most important job is to inspire young audiences.

PERALTA: It’s a great impact because in some instances we are the first performance that a child ever sees that is ever exposed to theatre so I know that is a great responsibility that I have and I’m honored.

(MUSIC)

SCHUTZ: Tomorrow’s opening performance of Wake Up Daisy is already sold out. But there’s plenty of time to catch the show–the run continues through this year and into 2023.


For more information about The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, visit the City Parks Foundation website.


Emily Schutz, Columbia Radio News.


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