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Puppet Kaos - where Kelvin Kao plays with puppets and tell random stories

Puppet Jukebox – Matinee & Closing Night

On Saturday, we did two shows. The first one was the matinee, which was supposed to be family-friendly with all curse words and adult jokes cut out. The second one was the closing performance where we got to go back to saying fuck (yay?). And they were both sold out as well! The theater seats about 50, so all four sold-out shows would be around 200 people that had seen the show. Not too shabby at all.

Before the matinee, we went over our lines to make sure we didn’t say anything that we shouldn’t say in front of kids. For example, I was debating whether to replace the “shit” in “your dress looks like shit” with crap, poop, doodie, or booger. Eventually I went with doodie. When we were done, I was relieved: “Yay! We didn’t slip!” And if you’ve been in our class, you would know that it was a challenge given how many inappropriate things we’ve said in class.

What really surprised us was that none of the kids were kicking, screaming, or crying. I mean, in all these movies and shows I’ve been to, if there were a certain number of kids, at least one of them would start crying and the parent would have to get the kid outside somewhat embarrassed. Well, none of that in this show. And once again I realized: Wow, puppet shows are magical.

After the show we brought out puppets to talk to the kids. The kids really loved the puppets. I can definitely relate. My family came to see the show too (though they are all adults). Yay!

At night, we got back to our regular uncensored show, yay! It was the last show, so for sure there was the “Yeah! Let’s go out with a bang!” attitude in everyone. I don’t usually use curse words very much when I talk, but somehow found it liberating to be able to say fuck again. However, when we got on stage, we realized that there was a 10-year-old in the first row. Well, we did already say that the show would be adult-themed so I thought “fuck it” and went on to say the aforementioned “shit” without censorship. It was not until after the show that I realized that I had the honor of being the first person to curse in every performance. Even if anyone had any reservations about cursing (I doubt it), it was basically green light the rest of the way after I let that one out. And we proceeded to say shit and fuck numerous times throughout the show. Hooray!

And finally, we did The Hustle without a hiccup! I did have another hiccup though when I was singing “She’s A Lady”. I wasn’t sure how it happened. At one point, either the music skipped, or it was turned much lower than the microphone, so I wasn’t hearing the music well. Or maybe I just got too excited? I was singing ahead of the music, which never happened in any rehearsals or previous performances. But at some point I caught myself doing that and found my place in the music again and finished it correctly the rest of the way. I hope the audience was distracted enough with the subsequent singing, dancing, and bright colors to remember that.

And really, it was the last night and everyone just wanted to put on their best performance and this led to many amazing performances. There was a camera recording the show, so we were watching the performances backstage via the video feed, and man, many of these performances were simply amazing. Many high-fives backstage after each number.

We closed out the show with an opera. Well, it was really us singing (painfully obvious) fake Italian to a background track. The four of us theatre puppetry students played the main characters, while the TV puppetry students joined in as the chorus. Every student was on stage at the same time. There was just something beautiful about that. Now, though there were character descriptions and a general plot line, everything else was improvised. We weren’t singing the same words every night. We weren’t singing the same notes every night. Every night it went slightly different. So we were all very happy afterwards with that crescendo we did. Without rehearsing and agreeing beforehand, Libby, Keith, and I all reached for that same high note towards the end, and wow, that felt just great.

And at the end of the last scene of the last show, my prop broke. What great timing! Now that’s a sign telling me that, yes, that’s a wrap. I had a wonderful time performing with this amazing group of people. More on that later. :-)

Puppet Jukebox – Second Night

Second night was much better! 😀

Actually, I am not sure if the performance was better, but it certainly felt better than the first night. Since we already performed it once, we were more relaxed and more comfortable with it. Knowing what worked and what needed to be fixed from first night was a very good thing. I mentioned that the first night was sort of a blur to me. Tonight it felt so much better. Nothing felt rushed. I knew where things were. I knew what needed to be done. And I was ready, standing by, and prepared long before each entrance. We also got a video feed to see what was going on out there (some of it, anyway) so that made it even more enjoyable. But really, the best thing was being relaxed enough to actually enjoy it.

Another reason that it felt better was because we had a better crowd. Sometimes I don’t know why you get a better crowd one night than the other. This didn’t even have anything to do with whether the performance tonight was better or not. We started the show with a video, and from the response to the video, you could already tell what kind of crowd it was. Maybe it was because it was Friday? Or maybe this was within margin of error in sampling? I don’t know, but it certainly helped tonight.

Our theatre puppetry class instructor Christian came to watch the show. He loved it. We are glad.

The microphone stuff was still a little iffy. It seemed to work in some songs and not the others (probably intentionally turned off because of the feedback problems?). Well, I am just going to assume that we won’t have microphones the rest of the run. As long as the music wasn’t dialed up too loud, most of us should be able to sing over it without major problems.

The wig on my puppet almost came off in one of the songs. I just made a joke about it and kept on going. When mistakes like that happen, you can handle it one of two ways. You can just ignore it and keep on going. Or you can acknowledge it (by joking about it) so that’s done. We can move on. It probably ended up being more entertaining anyway, so that’s all good. Still though, that’s not really supposed to happen, so I brought the wig home with me to do some rigging. It usually isn’t a big problem but since my puppet did have a lot of head movements, it can be an issue.

Two sold-out shows in a row. The two shows tomorrow (Saturday matinee and closing night) has two and five tickets left, respectively, and is very likely to sell out soon. Grab your tickets now:

Puppet Jukebox – Opening Night

Just did the first night of the show. Went by really fast. Some glitches. Lots of fun, nevertheless.

The show was scheduled at 7:30pm and our call time was 5pm, which I was late for. I certainly underestimated the traffic. Though I was only nine miles away from the venue, it took more than an hour to get there. That’s Los Angeles traffic for you. The first thing I did was look around and walk behind the curtains to see how they are connected, and where the entrances and exits are. The curtains and walls form a narrow passage around the stage so we could enter from several different directions. And there is a small room on the side for the people, puppets, and props not on stage at the moment.

Not much of a backstage. Pretty normal for a small theater.

Then we went through the rack of puppets making sure that we got all the ones we needed. And we made sure the costumes (for both the humans and puppets) were there. Jordan led a vocal warm-up. We started doing a run-through but that was cut short because we were out of time and some technical stuff still needed to be figured out. So we went back to the dressing room. Pretty soon after, Lara the stage manager came and told us that the door was open and the audience was let in.

And then the show started. Really, for me, it was a blur. There wasn’t much down time. I felt like I was on stage performing, off stage doing costume change for myself and the puppet, and then back on stage again. Over and over. Rinse and repeat throughout the entire show. Waiting backstage listening to fellow performers do their stuff and hearing the audience respond to that is actually something that I normally enjoy doing when I am not up, but I was simply too busy for that in this particular show. The wig falling off a puppet and an arm falling off another didn’t help either, but at least we were able to rig them back to good enough conditions fast. But hey, the audience wouldn’t know.

Perhaps I am making this sound less fun than it was, but don’t get me wrong. It was a lot of fun. We performed in front of a sold-out audience (the theater seats only around 50, but still) and really, I think it’s going to be fun no matter what happens. I mean, here are 50 adults who voluntarily paid 15 dollars each to see a bunch of grown-ups sing and dance with puppets in front of them. These are the kind of people that will have fun with the show no matter what, so you really can’t go wrong with that. 😀

And this is the kind of show where it’s great to sit in the first row. I was talking to Andrew after the show. He told me that he had some choreography that called for him to go to the side of the stage to sing to an audience member. He saw Chett, a former classmate, in the first row and decided to sing that part to him. I found that hilarious, because I also had choreography at the side of the stage, and gestured toward the same guy cuz I saw him there. Who knows? Maybe that would happen again in the three shows coming up if another former classmate ended up sitting there.

You know, I am expecting tomorrow’s show to be a lot more smooth. This is sort of what might happen with shows with short runs like these. There isn’t a lot of time to do tech rehearsals, so the opening night can be a little bit like a tech rehearsal and preview. I am sure it’s fun for the audience nevertheless, but you know, as a performer, you still want things to go better. Tomorrow, we will be more focused on putting on a good performance than just making sure things are happening on cue. We will probably have working microphones, which will help us sing over the music, but isn’t entirely necessarily given the small venue. We will have already gotten the jitters out, and will be more relaxed. We will be more familiar with the space, now that we’ve done one night, so we don’t dance into the monitor on stage or get lost looking for the opening between curtains.

Tomorrow’s show shall be a better one. Besides, it’s Friday, Friday, got to get down on Friday. Everybody’s looking forward to the weekend, weekend. Fun fun fun fun.

Tickets are running out fast! Get yours:

Puppet Jukebox Rehearsal

Last weekend we had a rehearsal where the two classes (TV and Theatre) met each other and rehearse together. It was an exciting moment because we’ve never seen what they rehearsed and vice versa. I was really impressed by what the other class had. Some of the choreography was simply amazing. And the singing, wow, the singing.

Sure, this class was about puppeteering, not singing, but man, we got some really great singers. Some of the singers really made me looked at the puppeteer instead of the puppet, because I could’ve sworn that I was listening to a recording instead of live vocals if I didn’t look at them. Now, I wouldn’t call myself a good singer, but I definitely had no problem carrying a tune. But some of these people simply were on another plane. They totally wowed me with their voices.

We also rehearsed the piece at the very end, which included every single member from both classes. It was not actually entirely written. We basically just had a structure and outline, and then improvised from there. It came out somewhat different every time, but I personally think that was great, because we all had to be really in tune (no pun intended) with what was going on in the scene. For this particular piece, I think I actually prefer not having set melody and lyrics.

Looks like the show was coming together. The fact that I would not be able to make the rehearsals this weekend did make me a little concerned, but hopefully the combinations of the rehearsals we’ve already done, the extra meetings I had (and will have) with the director, and our abilities to played off of one another can reduce the impact to the minimum.

Should be a fun show to watch. :-)
Get your tickets here.

Puppet Jukebox

And it’s time for our graduation show!
Puppet School proudly presents… Puppet Jukebox!

The show will run for four performances from May 26 (Thursday) to May 28 (Saturday). There is one show each of the night, and a matinee on Saturday, where it’s family-friendly with all the curse words cleaned up. (But where’s the punch in that, right?) The show will take place at The Complex – Hollywood. So if you are in the Los Angeles area, come join us for some silly fun!

For more details about the show (and to get tickets), click here.
To see the Facebook event, click here.

PS. Don’t ask me who those people in the picture are. I don’t know either. I believe they are people from the other class, but anyway, we’ll find out after tomorrow’s rehearsal when the two classes meet and rehearse together.