Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve - The Bob Baker Marionette Theater in LA

This Christmas Eve we had tickets to the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in Downtown, Los Angeles, for their special Nutcracker show for children. It was whimsical, magical, and I felt like a kid again. I highly recommend it for families. While we were waiting for the theater to darken and the show to start, Astrid liked to run up to the velvet curtain.

More Info
Bob Baker Marionette Theater
1345 W. 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90026

The theater is the oldest, longest running puppet theatre in America. Bob Baker, the proprietor, has been doing puppetry for 72 years, starting when he was 8 in 1932. Offering puppet shows & commercial puppets including the Disney line of collectible marionettes. The theater seats approximately 250/300. Adults sit in chairs, children sit on the floor around a "magic circle" where the marionettes are brought out to them. Ice cream is served after the show.

Watch their cute 30 second promo video here.
I bought this Santa dress for Astrid's photo with Santa, but since she's terrified of Santa Claus (and we decided to not force it this year because fear, tears, and screaming do not make good Christmas cheer photos), I was happy she got to wear the dress at least once. She looked like an angel and was the best dressed child in the theater.

Funny thing to note - we couldn't find the other matching Christmas hair scrunchie this morning. Astrid had played with them the day before and one was MIA. So in the rush and to make sure we got to the theater on time, I resorted to just doing a single ponytail in front. The hairstyle turned out really cute I thought and you can see how long her blond hair has gotten (and seems to be getting blonder).
Some more last minute running. Get all that energy out before the show starts.

This was the first time Astrid's worn tights. U. put them on her while I was getting ready and I could hear peels of laughter coming from her room. I peek in and saw Astrid standing there like a doll while U. was stretching the tights way up high. U. stopped and asked, "How the heck are these supposed to go? I've never done this before." I wish I would have gotten that on tape. It was pretty hilarious. (Us ladies know the torture of pantyhose.)
Astrid was scared of the marionettes at first but midway through she was clapping and asking me about the puppets.

There was limited chair seating so we all sat on the floor. Plus, I don't think Astrid would have sat there by herself anyway. She went back and forth between us sitting on each of our laps.U. has been to many marionette shows in Germany, but this was a first for Astrid and I. It's tailored for children, but I think the adults enjoyed it as much if not more than the children. The orchestra.The little girl and boy in the story.They bring the puppets right up to you. It made the show much more interactive for the children and us adults could appreciate the artistry that goes into making the marionettes (all handmade and vintage), as well as making them perform.The Nutcracker story starts to unfold.The Nutcracker.The Rat King and the Nutcracker before going into battle.
A robot.
A wooden toy soldier mounted to his horse.An elephant.
Once they started bringing out the animals, Astrid felt more at ease. She loves animals and they seem less scary to her than the dolls that look like people.Could be Pinocchio.The Sugar Plum Fairy.
Couples waltzing above wedding cakes.The Solid Gold Dancers.
As you can see it was a bit all over the place, but still a lot of fun.I think they were trying to show diversity. Here are the Chinese.Chinese dancers.
It's very much in the classic 1940-50's Disney style, (it's no surprise that Bob Baker used to work for Walt Disney) so their Chinese marionettes aren't very PC. The ones shown above are pretty tame, but some other ones had the caricature slanty eyes and buck teeth. From a historical point of view you can see the blatant racism in how we portrayed foreigners and non-white persons. But I was happy to hear the two little boys next to me having a discussion about whether this was from the Chinese or Japanese culture. The one boy pointed out that it had to be Chinese because of the use of the dragons. Education makes a big difference. Aladdin riding his magic carpet.Wooden dancers.Flower Nymphs.Astrid clapping and enjoying the show."More puppets Mommy!"The show ended with this gold Christmas tree rising up to the ceiling.Again, Astrid looked so adorable in this dress.
I only wish I would have dressed her in it more times before Christmas. So if anyone needs a size 3T Christmas dress, let me know. I have a brand new one that was worn just one day in perfect condition!U., Astrid, and I.
Thank you Bob Baker Marionette Theater! It was the perfect Christmas Eve event to attend with a child.

Afterwards we skipped the ice cream social and went to Philippe's for lunch.

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