The “Lost” Art: Stevens Puppets Brings Marionettes To Anne Arundel County

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By Maya Pottiger

Dubbed “Theatre in the Little,” Stevens Puppets travels around the country, bringing its marionette puppet shows to audiences in a variety of venues.

In April, Stevens Puppets is bringing two shows to the Broadneck Library and the Severna Park Library.

“We love coming to that area, especially the libraries because people are so nice and so welcoming,” said Dan Raynor, a Stevens Puppets co-owner who used to live on the Eastern Shore. “They have a warm place in my heart.”

The first show will be “Aladdin” at the Broadneck Library, followed by “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” at the Severna Park Library. “Goldilocks,” which debuted in March, is the first show Stevens Puppets added to its repertoire in 20 years.

Though Stevens Puppets focuses on classic fairytales, the audience should not expect the traditional “Goldilocks” story.

“A lot of different things have changed in our society, and we want to make sure our shows are reflecting that,” Raynor said.

The story is set in Alaska, and the family is made up of three bears: a polar bear, a black bear and a brown bear. This, Raynor said, is to represent a mixed family. But that isn’t the only change: in this story, Goldilocks is not the hero; rather, she is the “disrupter” or “trespasser,” Raynor said.

“We wanted to show that that’s not OK,” Raynor said. “We also wanted to change the ending so it shows there’s reparation and there’s apology.”

Audiences can expect differences in “Aladdin,” as well.

“A lot of people don’t realize that the original story of ‘Aladdin’ is Chinese folktale, and it actually took place in China,” Raynor said. “When we did our version, we wanted to make it very, very close to the original. Ours has a very Eastern look to it. The entire story revolves around that.”

With “Aladdin,” audiences can expect “authenticity, special effects, incredible puppetry and a huge elephant,” Raynor said.

Stevens Puppets was originally founded in 1933 by Martin Stevens, who also founded Puppeteers of America. Raynor and his wife, Zan, took over the company in 1993. Since then, they have expanded Stevens Puppets’ reach from three states to 45.

“My tagline that I like to say is we are bringing classic fairytales into the 21st century,” Raynor said.

The Raynors have a team of puppeteers who travel around the country performing different shows all year. In the summer, their slow season, they gather to restore the puppets and scenery. Zan hand-carves all of the puppets.

“The thing we get most is, ‘Thank you for doing this. This is a lost art that nobody else does, and you guys are doing it. Thank you for dedicating your life to this,’” Raynor said.
Both the Broadneck Library and Severna Park Library shows are on April 25. “Aladdin” will be at Broadneck Library at 2:00pm, and “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” will be at Severna Park Library at 7:00pm. Both shows are free to attend and last roughly 45 minutes.

For more information on Stevens Puppets, visit www.stevenspuppets.com.

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