WILLY THE WIZARD
of the Drawbridge Puppet Theater
(Interviewed by Clarence Bowtie III for The Puppet Times.)
Clarence Bowtie III & Willy the Wizard
PUPPET TIMES (PT): Hello, Mr. Wizard, can you start by telling us a little about yourself?

WILLY: Of course! My name is Willy the Wizard and I've been the puppet host of Drawbridge Theater's puppet shows for over 30 years now - except for the handful of times I've been forgotten back in the shed. I greet everyone before each show, and say goodbye at the end, and thank each cheering audience member for their nice round of 'applesauce.'

PT: Oh, is that where that phrase comes from? I've heard it quoted many times but assumed it originated with  Abraham Lincoln or Albert Einstein.

WILLY: No, it's from me.

PT: So tell us, Willy, what is Drawbridge Puppet Theater?

WILLY: Drawbridge is a quaint, 50-seat theater located at 1335 Mass. Ave, in Lunenburg, MA. We offer public puppet shows every Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 AM & 12:00 PM. We also offer personalized Birthday Parties and Field Trips for school groups or indeed any group. Any group, I should say, except dragons. Unfortunately the fire codes don't permit us to allow dragons inside our theater. They have a way of singeing the curtains every time they laugh. But even in their case we can perform in their caverns; so one way or another anyone who wishes can see our shows.

PT: Oh, so you travel for performances as well?

WILLY: Oh yes, we travel within a 75 mile radius of Lunenburg, MA to schools, libraries, day cares, churches, community events, fairs and more. Each production lasts approximately 50 minutes and concludes with an 'Art of Puppetry' demonstration, explaining the many techniques used in manipulating marionettes and puppets. If time permits, a Q & A session is also included.

PT: What show titles do you offer?

WILLY: Mostly famous fairy or folk tales, such as Cinderella, Hansel & Gretel, Pinocchio, Rumpelstiltskin, and so many more - all told using original scripts and songs I might add.

PT: Do you offer other things besides puppet shows at your theater?

WILLY: Oh goodness me, yes. In addition to our large and expanding roster of puppet productions, we offer several Puppet-Making Workshops. These are simple but fun projects that any age can participate in and decorate to the best of their abilities. Some are as basic as a paper plate stick puppet; others involve making a Dragonfly or Butterfly Finger puppet; or a fluorescent Fish or Shark stick puppet where the children get to walk backstage at the end of the workshop and see their puppet glow under our main fluorescent stage lights.

PT: That sounds fun. What else can visitors expect at the theater?

WILLY: There are lovely flowers and trees in our Enchanted Garden. Tidy little paths take visitors through the various sections, and there are even small exhibits throughout the garden such as Humpty Dumpty, the Three Pigs, and Little Red Riding Hood. And of course lots of gnomes. During warmer months people can bring a picnic lunch and eat before or after the show.

PT: And did I hear correctly, there's a Flower of the Month featured throughout those warmer months?

WILLY: Your hearing is perfect! There's indeed a Flower of the Month. Our head garden gnome selects one type of flower each month and if the children find it, and bring back a special gemstone from a basket tucked next to the flower, they receive a  money-saving coupon for a future show. So it's fun and educational at the same time.

PT: I feel smarter already.

WILLY: As you should. During special times of the year we also hold Scavenger Hunts, Pumpkin Patch displays, and other exciting events.

PT: We're now in 2018. Anything new planned for this year?

WILLY: Yes. Starting in March we'll be offering free Promotional Shows. These will be 20-minute hand puppet shows which we'll take to any public venue and perform for free - as long as the event is open to the general public, no fee is charged by the venue to audience members, the site is within our range, and Drawbridge is allowed to place a tip cup by our stage and pass out business cards.

PT: That sounds like a win/win situation. But Willy, between you and I - and the thousands of people reading this - aren't puppet shows really just for children?

WILLY: Not at all. Each of our shows contain healthy doses of humor for adults as well as children. In addition, we'll be presenting puppet shows for adults later this year. We hope to demonstrate that you're never too old for puppets. Why look at me? I'm 258 years old and I still love puppets. And I don't think the fact I am one has any bearing on the matter whatsoever.

PT: I must confess, Willy, you look wonderful for your age. Have you had any work done?

WILLY: Just an extra stitch here and there. One can't have one's nose falling off during a performance. But the rest are just laugh lines. Hoo hoo!

PT: So what is playing at the theater in April?

WILLY: Peter Rabbit. It's one of our newest shows and a real musical extravaganza, packed from beginning to end with toe-tapping songs.

PT: How would people go about reserving seats for this show?

WILLY: Folks can either call the theater at 978-582-1578; or visit our website at www.drawbridgepuppets.com. And remember, tickets are just $7.00 per seat.

PT: What a bargain! Well thank you, Willy; you've been a most friendly and articulate spokespuppet. And a special thank you for bringing the jellybeans.

WILLY: Anytime.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
(An ongoing series of interviews with
important personalities in the puppet world.)
Drawbridge Puppet Productions
1335 Massachusetts Ave.
Lunenburg, MA 01462

978-582-1578