Magic Mirror is a wonderful 40th-anniversary tribute to the creation of The Puppet Co. — it was the first show developed by founders Christopher Piper and Allan Stevens. The Puppet Co. emerged from that creative effort, and some of the original puppets from that show have been dusted off and repaired and are back in the spotlight.
The characters in Magic Mirror are inspired by the elements and seasons. Winter is represented by Johlyn, the mean, vengeful sister of Queen Brycelyn (summer). Feeling wronged and betrayed, Johlyn rules with the aid of a magic mirror, strikes terror throughout the land, and casts a deep freeze that slowly envelops the entire kingdom. There’s no Elsa-and-Anna Frozen sister love happening with that one. Johlyn snatches the royal baby Toad (Spring) and raises her in Cinderella-type wretched conditions, cleaning and scrubbing endlessly. In her toil, Toad befriends a huge sparkling blue dragon, Agoth, who helps her dodge Johlyn’s sinister plans for her demise. Obviously, this family isn’t very warm or fuzzy-friendly. Having escaped certain death, Toad sets off and in true fairy tale fashion meets adorable forest creatures and a handsome nobleman who help her discover her true royal lineage. She also discovers her strength and self-determination in being a girl instead of just considering herself a ragged, wretched subject. This was a heady change in perspective 40 years ago. Who knew that puppets could relay such an empowering message with giggles and fun? Decades before the Barbie movie!
Toad is endearingly voiced with a loving manner and chirpy voice — she even sounds springy! In touching moments, she’s so despondent about life’s cruel twists and turns that she sits and cries. Suddenly, little colorful flowers emerge from the ground dampened by her tears, and new opportunities appear. With Agoth’s help and trusty friendship, Toad finds her way back to the castle, reverses the evil spells, addresses the wrongs, and sets things right for a perfect Happily Ever After ending.
The puppets are a dazzling display of fine craft, enough to hold even fidgety youngsters spellbound. The King and Queen are beautifully attired in matching golden cloaks and emerge in tandem exuding care and tenderness. Evil sister Johlyn sparkles in a sleek shimmery blue wrap complete with puffs of smoke for her entrances. The show features a bounty of woodland creatures, but Agoth the giant dragon steals the spotlight with every appearance. The huge head with its long snout sits atop a full-body size neck and moves with ease in all directions. The large eyes sparkle like diamonds in multiple colors with every turn — it’s an absolute wonder. Projections on an upstage screen depict a large oval mirror complete with decorated frames for silhouettes and images adding delightful fluidity and depth to the scenes. Luscious voice-over by British performer Alister Austin as Narrator adds charm and distinction throughout.
Judging from the handiwork of fresh young puppeteers, The Puppet Co. is continuing the founders’ quest of “inspiring a new generation of puppet enthusiasts.” The shows merge stories and imagination, bringing everyone along on the journey of discovery. As noted on the webpage in the words of renowned Kermit the Frog: “Just because you haven’t found your talent yet, doesn’t mean you don’t have one .”
Magic Mirror is a special celebration for The Puppet Co. and a treat for the entire family.
Running Time: Approximately 50 minutes.
Magic Mirror plays through September 17, 2023 — Thursdays and Fridays at 10:30 am, Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30 am & 1 pm — presented by the Puppet Co. performing at Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Boulevard, Glen Echo, MD. For information call 301-634-5380 or email Box.Office@thepuppetco.org Tickets are $15 per person and may be purchased online (under age 2 no ticket is required, but call the Box Office to reserve a free ticket).
Recommended ages 4+.
COVID Safety: Masks are strongly encouraged for everyone over the age of 2.
Mask-required, ASL-interpreted, and sensory-friendly dates are to be announced.
Directed by Elizabeth Dapo
Featuring: Lee Gerstenhaber, Ingrid Rekedal, and Sophia Colón Roosevelt
Featured Voiceover: Alister Austin as Narrator