In the interest of enchanting family audiences, Great Arizona Puppet Theater has not only replaced human actors with marionettes and rod puppets but also replaced the bears in Goldilocks's story with sharks. Goldilocks & the Three Sharks parades vibrant sea creatures across the stage as the heroine, now a mermaid, acts out her legend against luminous black lights. This inventive take on an old myth is par for the course at the theater, whose adaptation of Cinderella won the 2010 UNIMA-USA Citation of Excellence in puppetry. Behind the scenes, professional puppeteers guide the characters through kid-friendly narratives, both ancient and original. Their performances often include a timely moral that parents can discuss with children with the help of accompanying study guides, which encourage guests to analyze themes and ask questions such as "how can puppets talk if they have no brains?"
The puppet masters have more than 50 tales in their collective memory. They perform them in the historical, hand-painted theater space five days a week, as well as at area schools and functions. By crafting scripts that address Arizonian themes, including the conservation of endangered condors and figures in Native American folklore, they hope to educate and engage their young spectators. Guests can interact with the stories even further by adopting puppets from the onsite gift shop or by attending a private party, where they create their own hand puppets out of paper bags. Additionally, seasonal adult shows prove that puppetry can be as edgy as any other art form.